By Grace

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“When we’re slow to speak and quick to listen, then we can begin to unpack the nuance of grace.”

TB

Hear Well

If you respond to situations with a legalistic approach, your ears and hearts become clogged by the law, dulling your senses grace and mercy. In order to hear well, you must listen with an open heart.

Grace Abound

Grace is not given because it’s earned. No, from human to human we ought to give grace because it’s the very thing that God gives to us. So instead of blowing up at your neighbor, respond with grace.

Today’s Question

Are you full of grace or something else?

Enjoy the reading

Genesis 29

1 Then Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in the land of the east. 2 He saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the mouth of the well. 3 It was the custom there to wait for all the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. Afterward the stone would be placed back over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, “Where are you from, my friends?” “We are from Haran,” they answered. 5 “Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” he asked. “Yes, we do,” they replied. 6 “Is he doing well?” Jacob asked. “Yes, he’s well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.” 7 Jacob said, “Look, it’s still broad daylight—too early to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?” 8 “We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.” 9 Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. 10 And because Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle’s flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. 12 He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban. 13 As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and brought him home. When Jacob had told him his story, 14 Laban exclaimed, “You really are my own flesh and blood!” Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, 15 Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” 19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. 21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.” 22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.) 25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?” 26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27 “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.” 28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. 31 When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. 32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The LORD has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.” 33 She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon, for she said, “The LORD heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.” 34 Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. He was named Levi, for she said, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!” 35 Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, “Now I will praise the LORD !” And then she stopped having children.

Grace

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Learn to listen to your brothers and sisters with a loving ear.”

TB

Wisdom

We display Christ’s teachings when we listen to each other with love and grace. More often than not, we respond with legalistic rhetoric, when really, the person needs a kind word. It’s easy to correct a downfallen neighbor, but it takes divine wisdom to show them grace. Notice how God treats you when you fall. It’s not with a harsh or haughty rebuke, but like a father lovingly picking you up after you’ve fallen and scraped a knee. If you aspire to be wise, show grace and love.

Build

When we treat others as God treats us, we exemplify Kingdom traits, encouraging others to draw closer to Him. Friends, it is not our job to be religious, but to rather share the Gift that has been freely given to us. When you realize that Christ-like love is the formula for sharing the Good News, God can then impart wisdom within you to carry out the goal. Graceful wisdom builds Christ-bearing relationships. So when your brother or sister becomes discouraged, remember to lead with grace and love.

Today’s Question

Are you leading with grace?

Enjoy the reading

Hosea 7

1 “I want to heal Israel, but its sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars. Thieves are on the inside and bandits on the outside! 2 Its people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all. 3 “The people entertain the king with their wickedness, and the princes laugh at their lies. 4 They are all adulterers, always aflame with lust. They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough. 5 On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine, carousing with those who mock them. 6 Their hearts are like an oven blazing with intrigue. Their plot smolders through the night, and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire. 7 Burning like an oven, they consume their leaders. They kill their kings one after another, and no one cries to me for help. 8 “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! 9 Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. 10 Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the LORD their God or even try to find him. 11 “The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help. 12 But as they fly about, I will throw my net over them and bring them down like a bird from the sky. I will punish them for all the evil they do. 13 “What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. 14 They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead, they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine, and they turn away from me. 15 I trained them and made them strong, yet now they plot evil against me. 16 They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow. Their leaders will be killed by their enemies because of their insolence toward me. Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them.

Sober

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Be sober-minded so that you may hear from God.”

TB

Distracted

A distracted mind can never hear nor learn anything new or important. While we fill our minds and hearts with the many libations of a fallen world, one does not need to be drunk or high to be distracted. No, to be spiritually inebriated, one must be actively participating in activities that keep us away from growing with God. If you want to know how sober-minded you truly are, ask yourself when was the last time you were able to be truly still?

Still

When the roaring lights and sounds of the world fail to bring you peace, sit still, and quiet your mind to hear the gentle words of God. In the stillness, read the Word to tap into the holy insights the Holy Spirit provides. Watch the words of the Living Word jump off the page and into your heart so that you may know the Truth and carry it with you. Friends, this kind of work and education only happens when we’re still and listening. Until you learn to settle down, be still, and listen, spiritual drunkenness will impede your hearts and minds. So, choose to sober up and listen to Christ.

Today’s Question

Are you listening out for God, or are you too spiritually drunk to hear anything?

Enjoy the reading

Ezekiel 35

1 Again a message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, turn and face Mount Seir, and prophesy against its people. 3 Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD : “I am your enemy, O Mount Seir, and I will raise my fist against you to destroy you completely. 4 I will demolish your cities and make you desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD . 5 “Your eternal hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins. 6 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, since you show no distaste for blood, I will give you a bloodbath of your own. Your turn has come! 7 I will make Mount Seir utterly desolate, killing off all who try to escape and any who return. 8 I will fill your mountains with the dead. Your hills, your valleys, and your ravines will be filled with people slaughtered by the sword. 9 I will make you desolate forever. Your cities will never be rebuilt. Then you will know that I am the LORD . 10 “For you said, ‘The lands of Israel and Judah will be ours. We will take possession of them. What do we care that the LORD is there!’ 11 Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I will pay back your angry deeds with my own. I will punish you for all your acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will make myself known to Israel by what I do to you. 12 Then you will know that I, the LORD, have heard every contemptuous word you spoke against the mountains of Israel. For you said, ‘They are desolate; they have been given to us as food to eat!’ 13 In saying that, you boasted proudly against me, and I have heard it all! 14 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The whole world will rejoice when I make you desolate. 15 You rejoiced at the desolation of Israel’s territory. Now I will rejoice at yours! You will be wiped out, you people of Mount Seir and all who live in Edom! Then you will know that I am the LORD .

Fiddle

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Go to God with your weaknesses and ask for help so that the devil will not play you like a fiddle.”

TB

Tune

Though the devil is defeated, he is crafty in the way he gets us off the beaten path. He’s especially cunning at getting us to focus only on our shortcomings and weaknesses. Like a fiddle, he plays us a specific song to get us off the beaten path. He’ll create an enticing tune where the melody is a collection of your weaknesses. Because it’s a catchy tune, if we aren’t close to the Truth of Christ, it’s a song we continue to hear for many years. Like a hit on the radio that we play on repeat, it leads us to believe the worst about ourselves, discourages us from our relationship with God, and ultimately blinds us to the reality of Christ.

Tune Out

We do not need to fear the devil because God is for us. We do, however, need to understand how the devil operates so that we don’t fall prey to his schemes. He will use lies disguised as truth to get you to believe the nonsense that keeps you from being who God called you to be. He does not attack you because you’re weak, he attacks you because of your potential. Think about it, what’s the best way to attack a powerful person? So instead of being played like a fiddle, remember who made you, who keeps you, and who saved you. Tune out the noise of the evil one and tune in to the Truth of Christ. His melody brings everlasting life.

Today’s Question

Are you being played like a fiddle or did you turn the noise off?

Enjoy the reading

Lamentations 1

1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. 2 Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. 3 After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. 4 The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish. 5 Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe. 6 All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. 7 In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into enemy hands, there was no one to help her. Her enemies looked at her and laughed at her destruction. 8 Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away. 9 Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. “Look, LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.” 10 The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary— those you had forbidden to enter your assembly. 11 All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. “Look, LORD, and consider, for I am despised.” 12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger? 13 “From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all the day long. 14 “My sins have been bound into a yoke ; by his hands they were woven together. They have been hung on my neck, and the Lord has sapped my strength. He has given me into the hands of those I cannot withstand. 15 “The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah. 16 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” 17 Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. The LORD has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them. 18 “The LORD is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look on my suffering. My young men and young women have gone into exile. 19 “I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive. 20 “See, LORD, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death. 21 “People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my distress; they rejoice at what you have done. May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me. 22 “Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my heart is faint.”

Sharp

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Keep wise people around you because their hard-earned wisdom will serve you well.”

TB

Sharpened Iron

I chat with my dad often. Most of the time, it’s because he’s got a lot of cool information that I’ve been able to use both in my life and my business. While I may take some time to wrap my Texas-sized ego around his wise words, more often than not, after a moment or two (and quite possibly a nap) I concede that his answers are far better than my own. Every now and again, I manage to squeak out a wise word from my own experiences, but usually I’m the student, benefitting from 55 years of living. Listening to wise biblically based counsel is very important, as it helps you gain discernment that will see you through this life.

Sharp Eyes

When you have daily conversations with God and godly people, your spiritual eyesight is sharp, able to cut through the superficial nonsense of this world. Because you set your sights on above, God Himself act as your guide to navigate the waters of a sin-fallen world. Even better, if He has given you a wise elder within your family, peer group, or what have you, you have the added benefit from learning through their experiences, mistakes, triumphs, and the like. As this world gets more flesh-driven, there are fake things that pretend to be good. If you’re not looking too closely, you will fall prey to the imitations set out to devour you. It’s easy to say that evil is deceptive and that we lack insight into the motives of others and the opposition. But, with sharp eyes, a Christ-centered mind, and wise counsel, you can persevere and sidestep the tomfoolery.

Today’s Question

Are you staying sharp by knowing God and His people, or are the fake treasures of evil blinding your sight?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 42

1 Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the LORD your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the LORD your God will show us what to do and where to go.” 4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the LORD your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the LORD our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” 7 Ten days later the LORD gave his reply to Jeremiah. 8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the LORD, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the LORD . ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’ 13 “But if you refuse to obey the LORD your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the LORD ’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’ 18 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’ 19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The LORD has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the LORD your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the LORD our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the LORD your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”

Uncalled Interference

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quotes

“Let your brothers and sisters endure their trials as they are a necessary byproduct of growing in Christ.”~TB

Well-Intentioned

I love my family with great fierceness– for better or worse. It’s a joy to see them do well and it’s heartbreaking when they suffer– especially to false accusations. I’ve been known to jump on land mines for the people I love. Though my intentions are well-meaning, every single one of us has to go through the fire at some point and blocking someone else’s spiritual assignment –good-intentioned or otherwise– benefits no one.

Growth Through Struggle

Having experience with unfair persecution, I can say that those uncomfortable times did way more good than harm. Through the muck and the mess, I learned that I had to rely on God because He was with me in the fiery storms. When I look back at those radical moments, I realize that though the experiences were unpleasant, never was I harmed. So, if God walks with me, I’d be a fool to not trust that He’s walking with all of you as well. More to the point, when those we love endure suffering for what is right, we should be pleased that they too get the opportunity to grow in Christ.

It’s All Joy

These days I am more mindful about the Hand of Christ and I am present and careful to watch Him at work. I pray for His Will to be done rather than jump the gun with my hair-brained schemes. Instead of interfering, I encourage and listen. Friends that is all we can do, because the heavy lifting is God’s plan. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather that my brothers and sisters have God’s help than mine, because well, it’s should be obvious, ha! So the next time you see those in your life go through hard times, remember how your struggles brought you closer to God and that they too are given the opportunity and honor to know God in that same way.

Today’s Question

Are you letting your interfering ways block the spiritual growth of others?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 20

1 Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the LORD, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. 
2 So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the LORD ’s Temple. 
3 The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the LORD has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ 
4 For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. 
5 And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. 
6 As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’” 
7 O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me. 
8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke. 
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it! 
10 I have heard the many rumors about me. They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.” They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.” Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip. “He will trap himself,” they say, “and then we will get our revenge on him.” 
11 But the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten. 
12 O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you. 
13 Sing to the LORD ! Praise the LORD ! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors. 
14 Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth. 
15 I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news—you have a son!” 
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the LORD overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts, 
17 because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave! 
18 Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.

 

Feedback

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Hanging out with God is like getting honest and objective feedback from someone who ultimately has your best interest in mind. Listen well.”~TB

It Starts With

I’m a big believer in demystifying the practice of building a relationship with God. For some reason, people make it out to be some big ritualistic practice that only ‘certain’ people can do, when in reality, everyone can talk to God. More to the point, the more you talk and listen, you too can get His feedback on your life and what it means to truly be His. It starts with you asking to hear from Him. Literally, that’s it. If you have the honest and earnest desire to hear from God, then ask.

It’s Not Like

After observing people, I find that one of the biggest disconnects with building that relationship comes from not understanding who God is. We, humans, have a distorted belief that we are our own leaders, makers, etc. So if you’re trying to come to God to dictate to Him how your life should be, man, you’re going to continuously bump your head on a wall. Trust, I’m saying this from experience. My point in saying all this is, to know God is to understand that He is our Creator. This means He ultimately knows you better than you know yourself.

Learn From

When you do the work and build that connection with Christ, His feedback will radically change how you see the world. The fads, the trends, the need for approval from broken people disappear– if you allow it. Because the world jams up our Holy Frequency of which God communicates by, we must unlearn our worldly practices to synthesize the feedback from God. So to sum it up, come to Him with an honest heart. Be humble and learn to submit to His sovereignty. Listen and learn from what you hear. When you’re able to see the world for what it actually is, God’s feedback is easier to understand and implement.

Today’s Question

Who are you listening to, God or the world?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 2

1 The LORD gave me another message. He said, 
2 “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. 
3 In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 
4 Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! 
5 This is what the LORD says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves. 
6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’ 
7 “And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. 
8 The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD ?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols. 
9 Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the LORD . “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come. 
10 “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus ; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? 
11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! 
12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the LORD . 
13 “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! 
14 “Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder? 
15 Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore. 
16 Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power. 
17 And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the LORD your God, even though he was leading you on the way! 
18 “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River? 
19 Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the LORD your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! 
20 “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. 
21 But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine? 
22 No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken! 
23 “You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate. 
24 You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them! 
25 When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’ 
26 “Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this. 
27 To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’ 
28 But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah. 
29 Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the LORD . 
30 “I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey. 
31 “O my people, listen to the words of the LORD ! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’ 
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me. 
33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you! 
34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! 
35 And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned. 
36 First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before. 
37 In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the LORD has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.

Transactional

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Take care to develop honest relationships because a transactional lifestyle is meaningless.”~TB

Motives

In today’s surface-driven world, fake relationships and fake ideals run rampant. We seek what people can give to us or how we can use their status to achieve our agendas. Looking at people in a transactional manner is a dangerous precedent because the foundation is not real.  Consider your motives when developing relationships with people. What are you after?  Honest relationships require honest motives. If developing an authentic relationship with people and– more to the point– Christ is what you desire, you first must examine your heart.

Dig Deeper

Isn’t interesting that people can want what God can give them but not actually want God? The ironic part is that to know God is to have received something far greater than any wealth on this earth. But, to get to this fundamental truth, we have to forge an authentic and meaningful relationship with God. Christ is not here to grant us wishes, like some magic genie. No, we must talk, listen, learn, and practice the teachings of Christ so that we know the difference between what is real and what is fake. Throw off the superficial lifestyle to put on the authentic Truth that is God. By doing so, you change your heart and how you move in this world.

Today’s Question

Are you interested in knowing God or are you just looking to get things from Him?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah

1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. 
2 The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, 
3 and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

The Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 
6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. 
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” 
11 The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. 
12 The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” 
13 The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” 
14 The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 
15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. 
16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. 
17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 
18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 
19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Cheerful

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Hi Peeps,
Today’s Quote
 
“Cheerfully partner with your loved one to help spread the Gospel in your families and around the people you know, based on the honest things you do and not the daily lies you may say or hear.”  ~ Jon Barnes

Impartial

You can’t handle the honest truth from God and your loved ones when you do not spend quality time with them. Your balance is impartial to the things you want to do that are keeping you from cleaning your own home.  How can you keep God’s house clean, when your own house stays filthy, disorganized, and in constant need? Give God a complete balanced package and stop chasing the money and avoiding your responsibilities to your home and family.  Stop letting other people and things take up all of your time from your family and God.  Cheerfully draw this line!

Skillful

Use your skillful creativity to balance your talent, obligations, and lifestyle for God, without being an absent wife, husband, child, or family member in your own home or church.  Too much time in any one area is just not good and the other parts of service in love will fail, due to your absence in quality involvement and discussions.  Skillfully make the call, e-mail, text, or appointment to meet, greet, and stay connected to the physical love that is required and needed in finding, developing, and maintaining real, honest relationships with God, family, and people.

Funny

It is funny to me that I should write out, read, edit, and publish all the things I should do for myself to share with others and honor God.  I have to write, re-write, read, and re-read things constantly.  The juggling act of self-reflection carries on and into daily conversations with my spouse, family, friends, and other people I meet as well.   Spend a minimum of 10-15 minutes every day on everything that you need to accomplish from the list of priorities in your life and rotate your exercises in love, faith, charity, and cleanliness at home first.  Cheerfully rotate your schedule like working out at the gym to get everything done by God’s standard and enjoy the new miracle of management in love with Christ orchestrating your steps and movements.
Today’s Question
Will you rise to the occasion to worship our risen Savior who died on the cross for our sins and provided the only bridge from death to eternal life unto Him?
Enjoy The Reading

John 20 

The Resurrection

20 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Enthusiastic

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Hi Peeps,
Today’s Quote
“Stop letting other people take the fall for your dumb choices and decisions, but rather enthusiastically accept your frailty and ask God to really help you to listen and learn from Him.”  ~ Jon Barnes

Trustworthy

When you become trustworthy enough to embrace God’s truth, hide it in your heart, and live by biblical morals, values, and principles.  God will build a circle of protection around you and reward you with eternal benefits in heaven.  If you do the opposite, you will reap the eternal benefits of hell forever.  This is not a threat, but a trustworthy promise from God with consequences or rewards.

Reward

It is standard to receive a reward for doing something right and obeying the rules.  We reap what we sow. As a result, it is the love of God that you have in your heart that activates the reward of doing the work God has commanded us to do.  We do not get the chance to make up God’s Commandments nor can we change or select which ones to obey!

Obey

It appears that we all are enthusiastic about doing God’s work and going to heaven or we are all enthusiastically following the devil to prepare our future home in hell.  In the court of God’s Kingdom, you will be judged accordingly and accurately, based on your lifestyle account.
Today’s Question
Are you motivated or are your motives out of touch with God’s reality?
Enjoy The Reading

John 4 

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

4 Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”
33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

43 At the end of the two days, Jesus went on to Galilee. 44 He himself had said that a prophet is not honored in his own hometown. 45 Yet the Galileans welcomed him, for they had been in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration and had seen everything he did there.
46 As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.
48 Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?”
49 The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.”
50 Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.
51 While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. 52 He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” 53 Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. 54 This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.