“God gives us the choice to be better than where we came from.”
We all come from someone, who also came from someone, and so on. Some have wonderful examples to emulate; while others have wonderful examples to avoid at all costs. Because we cannot be blamed for the sins of our parents and they are not responsible for our sins, rely on God to show you how to improve on your unique path. Even further, how we start in this world does not have any bearing on how we end as well.
Just because your father was a great man does not mean that you too will automatically be great. And, if your father was a terrible man, that does not mean you will be too. Consider the great men and women of the bible. They did right in the eyes of God, but many of their descendants did not. However, some of those with wicked fathers loved the Lord and succeeded. So friends, love God because the choice is yours.
Do you love God, or are you trying to trade in on the favor of your ancestors?
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1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. 3 On the eighth day the boy’s foreskin must be circumcised. 4 After waiting thirty-three days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. During this time of purification, she must not touch anything that is set apart as holy. And she must not enter the sanctuary until her time of purification is over. 5 If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she will be ceremonially unclean for two weeks, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. After waiting sixty-six days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. 6 “When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must bring her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 7 The priest will then present them to the LORD to purify her. Then she will be ceremonially clean again after her bleeding at childbirth. These are the instructions for a woman after the birth of a son or a daughter. 8 “If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. One will be for the burnt offering and the other for the purification offering. The priest will sacrifice them to purify her, and she will be ceremonially clean.”
“Don’t magnify the weight of your sin; instead magnify the glory of Christ as His willingness to step in and wipe the slate clean.”
When we sin or miss the mark, it’s natural to want to bear the full weight of it. But remember, when you go before Christ, repent, and turn away, let the weight go. This is where having the humility to accept God’s help goes a long way. Friends, we will never be perfect and sin will creep in, so we must know how to righteously deal with it, so that it does not deal with us.
In the Old Testament, people had to offer burnt offerings and perform various acts in repentance. Even still it wasn’t enough, which is the True Glory of Christ. Because God sent Him on our behalf, we now have the divine connection to go to the source. So, the next time you fall short, magnify the Grace of God instead of your shortcomings. What a joy it is to need Christ!
Are you beginning to understand the magnitude of a relationship with God?
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1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” 3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, 4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! 7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” 9 Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility. 10 This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. 11 You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. 13 All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. 14 Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” 15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.” 17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” 19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. 20 As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” 22 When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham. 23 On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and Ishmael, his son, was thirteen. 26 Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael, were circumcised on that same day, 27 along with all the other men and boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants. All were circumcised with him.
“Study and know the Word so that decoys become obvious.”
It’s easy to become fixated on the things outside of our control—unruly coworkers, disconnected spouses, competitive siblings, and so on. There is so much for you and me to become obsessed with, and eventually, those obsessions become problems that weren’t actually problems to begin with! So, why does this happen? We lost sight of the truth and grabbed onto the decoy.
The decoy only works if we participate. When you engage in a throwaway comment from someone rather than ignoring it, you’ve picked up the decoy. When you reply to an inappropriate message that obstructs your marriage vows, you’ve picked up the decoy. When you’re seeking out images and substances you know you need to put down, you’ve picked up the decoy. Friends, we’ve all fallen for the deceptive decoy, but the great news is that we have God on our side. So, the next time you’re tempted to pick up the decoy, pick up the Word and tune into God instead.
What decoy are you not leaving alone?
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1 Open your doors, Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedar forests. 2 Weep, you cypress trees, for all the ruined cedars; the most majestic ones have fallen. Weep, you oaks of Bashan, for the thick forests have been cut down. 3 Listen to the wailing of the shepherds, for their rich pastures are destroyed. Hear the young lions roaring, for their thickets in the Jordan Valley are ruined. 4 This is what the LORD my God says: “Go and care for the flock that is intended for slaughter. 5 The buyers slaughter their sheep without remorse. The sellers say, ‘Praise the LORD ! Now I’m rich!’ Even the shepherds have no compassion for them. 6 Likewise, I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” says the LORD . “I will let them fall into each other’s hands and into the hands of their king. They will turn the land into a wilderness, and I will not rescue them.” 7 So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter—the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and named one Favor and the other Union. 8 I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month. But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, too. 9 So I told them, “I won’t be your shepherd any longer. If you die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And let those who remain devour each other!” 10 Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 That was the end of my covenant with them. The suffering flock was watching me, and they knew that the LORD was speaking through my actions. 12 And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter ”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD . 14 Then I took my other staff, Union, and cut it in two, showing that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken. 15 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This illustrates how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves. 17 “What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind.”
“The path to Christ is the same no matter who you are. What differs is the time you take to get there, and that lies solely on you.”
It will never cease to amaze me that the Israelites took 40 years to make a trip that could have been done in 11 days. But then again, if you’ve ever worked on team projects for a business, it’s not that hard to understand how that could’ve happened. It wasn’t the distance or the lack of technology that hindered them. Fear, disobedience, and rebellion are the things that the Israelites clung to, which ultimately cost them the enjoyment of the Promise land. Now if we reflect on their journey, it won’t be hard to see the similarities of their journey within our own lives.
Christ gives salvation to anyone who humbly submits and accepts the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. That’s it. The ball is in our court and so is the timeline. You can spend your whole life avoiding God only to realize in the end that you need Him. Some (many) may never find Him. Even still, it takes a lifetime to even begin to truly know the Lord. That’s because God unlocks insight and vision to those who honestly seek Him. In spite of our slow travel times, He’s still with us, pouring into us mercy and grace that we do not deserve. Of course, no one knows when our journey will end, so friends, don’t wander for too long.
How’s your ETA; will you make the destination?
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1 Then on October 17 of that same year, the LORD sent another message through the prophet Haggai. 2 “Say this to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of God’s people there in the land: 3 ‘Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! 4 But now the LORD says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 5 My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’ 6 “For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. 7 I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 9 The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” 10 On December 18 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD sent this message to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says. Ask the priests this question about the law: 12 ‘If one of you is carrying some meat from a holy sacrifice in his robes and his robe happens to brush against some bread or stew, wine or olive oil, or any other kind of food, will it also become holy?’” The priests replied, “No.” 13 Then Haggai asked, “If someone becomes ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person and then touches any of these foods, will the food be defiled?” And the priests answered, “Yes.” 14 Then Haggai responded, “That is how it is with this people and this nation, says the LORD . Everything they do and everything they offer is defiled by their sin. 15 Look at what was happening to you before you began to lay the foundation of the LORD ’s Temple. 16 When you hoped for a twenty-bushel crop, you harvested only ten. When you expected to draw fifty gallons from the winepress, you found only twenty. 17 I sent blight and mildew and hail to destroy everything you worked so hard to produce. Even so, you refused to return to me, says the LORD . 18 “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the LORD ’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. 19 I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.” 20 On that same day, December 18, the LORD sent this second message to Haggai: 21 “Tell Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, that I am about to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overthrow royal thrones and destroy the power of foreign kingdoms. I will overturn their chariots and riders. The horses will fall, and their riders will kill each other. 23 “But when this happens, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, I will honor you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant. I will make you like a signet ring on my finger, says the LORD, for I have chosen you. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
“Take your gripes and complaints to the Lord so that you may see the True value and beauty of Christ.”
When you confirm within your heart that God is real and you accept the gift of salvation, it’s an amazing and beautiful moment. God has put His mark on you and you begin to see the profound sacrifice that He freely gave so that we could have a direct connection to Him.
While we experience the reality of Christ, we also experience the reality of why we need Him. This means as followers of Christ there is the reality of suffering. When your eyes are opened, it’s easier to see the corruption, lies, and waywardness on this planet we call Earth. At times it can feel unbearable and it’s easy to give in to the negativity and gripe. But, in those moments, share so that you aren’t going at it alone.
In the eyes of man, it is too easy to become jaded while trying to discipline your flesh. After all, we see our neighbors, peers, supervisors, and world leaders carry out the most heinous injustices. In this day and age, it’s a regular occurrence. But friends, rather be dismayed, rejoice in the Truth that everything God has shown and shared with us is coming to pass. So, the next time you need encouragement share your burdens with Him so that He may give you clarity.
Are you disposing of your gripes or are they restricting your view of the bigger picture?
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1 On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 2 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD .’” 3 Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! 7 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD . 9 You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 11 I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.” 12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the LORD their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the LORD their God had sent, the people feared the LORD . 13 Then Haggai, the LORD ’s messenger, gave the people this message from the LORD : “I am with you, says the LORD !” 14 So the LORD sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the enthusiasm of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God’s people. They began to work on the house of their God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, 15 on September 21 of the second year of King Darius’s reign. Zephaniah 3Haggai 2 Parallel Compare
“Learn to enjoy and practice honest, straight-up work.”
Here’s a tip, if you desire to live a Christ-led life, do the opposite of what the world teaches you. This also includes the misconception of an honest day’s work. While society touts riches and rewards for superficial deeds, there is deep and profound wisdom gained in laboring for the Lord.
Honest work develops disciplined and steadfast hands. There is something to be said when you’re able to admire the fruits of your labor. That same honest, humble work ethic applies to the work we put into knowing God. When you learn to enjoy seeking Him, you can consider the labor as joy.
Are you straight-up working or straight-up lying?
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1 “At the time of those events,” says the LORD, “when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. 3 They threw dice to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk. 4 “What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, then watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. 5 You have taken my silver and gold and all my precious treasures, and have carried them off to your pagan temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, so they could take them far from their homeland. 7 “But I will bring them back from all the places to which you sold them, and I will pay you back for everything you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the people of Arabia, a nation far away. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9 Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. 10 Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. 11 Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O LORD, call out your warriors! 12 “Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the LORD, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” 14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. 16 The LORD ’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel. 17 “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again. 18 In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the LORD ’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will become a wasteland and Edom will become a wilderness, because they attacked the people of Judah and killed innocent people in their land. 20 “But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations. 21 I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the LORD, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.”
“Don’t be afraid to confront the Truth, because it allows you to see God’s sovereignty so that you make the necessary changes to grow closer to Him.”
Lies can seem comforting when you lack the discipline to change your ways. Like junk food, sin feels great going in but has some real consequences on the way out. Don’t mistake temporary comfort for the real thing, unless permanent discomfort is ok with you. To get away from the temporary, you must know the permanent truth, which is that the price for salvation was paid long ago.
If you read the Bible, especially the first four chapters in the New Testament you will learn that people who literally walked with Jesus still sought to condemn Him to death. This tells us that in spite of the Truth, people still chose evil. Fortunately for us, salvation was freely given that day so that you and I could know God on a 1:1 level. Instead of clinging to a tolerable lie, pick up your cross and walk in the Truth.
Are you confronting the Truth or consuming the lies?
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1 After that, the man brought me into the sanctuary of the Temple. He measured the walls on either side of its doorway, and they were 10 feet thick. 2 The doorway was 17 feet wide, and the walls on each side of it were 8 feet long. The sanctuary itself was 70 feet long and 35 feet wide. 3 Then he went beyond the sanctuary into the inner room. He measured the walls on either side of its entrance, and they were 3 feet thick. The entrance was 10 feet wide, and the walls on each side of the entrance were 12 feet long. 4 The inner room of the sanctuary was 35 feet long and 35 feet wide. “This,” he told me, “is the Most Holy Place.” 5 Then he measured the wall of the Temple, and it was 10 feet thick. There was a row of rooms along the outside wall; each room was 7 feet wide. 6 These side rooms were built in three levels, one above the other, with thirty rooms on each level. The supports for these side rooms rested on exterior ledges on the Temple wall; they did not extend into the wall. 7 Each level was wider than the one below it, corresponding to the narrowing of the Temple wall as it rose higher. A stairway led up from the bottom level through the middle level to the top level. 8 I saw that the Temple was built on a terrace, which provided a foundation for the side rooms. This terrace was 10 feet high. 9 The outer wall of the Temple’s side rooms was 8 feet thick. This left an open area between these side rooms 10 and the row of rooms along the outer wall of the inner courtyard. This open area was 35 feet wide, and it went all the way around the Temple. 11 Two doors opened from the side rooms into the terrace yard, which was 8 feet wide. One door faced north and the other south. 12 A large building stood on the west, facing the Temple courtyard. It was 122 feet wide and 157 feet long, and its walls were 8 feet thick. 13 Then the man measured the Temple, and it was 175 feet long. The courtyard around the building, including its walls, was an additional 175 feet in length. 14 The inner courtyard to the east of the Temple was also 175 feet wide. 15 The building to the west, including its two walls, was also 175 feet wide. The sanctuary, the inner room, and the entry room of the Temple 16 were all paneled with wood, as were the frames of the recessed windows. The inner walls of the Temple were paneled with wood above and below the windows. 17 The space above the door leading into the inner room, and its walls inside and out, were also paneled. 18 All the walls were decorated with carvings of cherubim, each with two faces, and there was a carving of a palm tree between each of the cherubim. 19 One face—that of a man—looked toward the palm tree on one side. The other face—that of a young lion—looked toward the palm tree on the other side. The figures were carved all along the inside of the Temple, 20 from the floor to the top of the walls, including the outer wall of the sanctuary. 21 There were square columns at the entrance to the sanctuary, and the ones at the entrance of the Most Holy Place were similar. 22 There was an altar made of wood, 5 feet high and 3 feet across. Its corners, base, and sides were all made of wood. “This,” the man told me, “is the table that stands in the LORD ’s presence.” 23 Both the sanctuary and the Most Holy Place had double doorways, 24 each with two swinging doors. 25 The doors leading into the sanctuary were decorated with carved cherubim and palm trees, just as on the walls. And there was a wooden roof at the front of the entry room to the Temple. 26 On both sides of the entry room were recessed windows decorated with carved palm trees. The side rooms along the outside wall also had roofs.
“Take care to get your healthy dose of Christ and His teachings to avoid the tummy aches of a flesh-driven diet”
Human beings left up to our own devices seldom make wise choices. We demand independence and autonomy, only to chose actions that cause temporary pleasure. Like a 5-year old that only wants ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, untamed flesh can drive people to only participate in pleasurable activities in spite of the destruction they may cause. Of course, when the proverbial tummy ache occurs, all of a sudden we want God to be in charge, relieving us of the consequences our flesh-driven behavior racked up.
As we call out to repent for our poor choices, like the benevolent parent he is, God helps us clean our mess and gets us back on track. Just like young children, we don’t fully understand the consequence of our actions, let alone grasp the implications Christ’s teachings. While it may seem like the “fun stuff” is off-limits, God’s instructions actually prevent us from getting sick off of the sinful nature we all crave from time to time. A good parent helps prevent disaster by implementing safeguards. If you want to avoid the tummy ache of destruction, talk to God about your spiritual diet. It’s full of the Holy nutrients we all need.
Who’s in charge of your spiritual diet?
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1 This is another message that came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, turn and face Gog of the land of Magog, the prince who rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him. 3 Give him this message from the Sovereign LORD : Gog, I am your enemy! 4 I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army—your horses and charioteers in full armor and a great horde armed with shields and swords. 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya will join you, too, with all their weapons. 6 Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others. 7 “Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. 8 A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. 9 You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud. 10 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. 11 You will say, ‘Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence! 12 I will go to those formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations. I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now. They think the whole world revolves around them!’ 13 But Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish will ask, ‘Do you really think the armies you have gathered can rob them of silver and gold? Do you think you can drive away their livestock and seize their goods and carry off plunder?’ 14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign LORD : When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will rouse yourself. 15 You will come from your homeland in the distant north with your vast cavalry and your mighty army, 16 and you will attack my people Israel, covering their land like a cloud. At that time in the distant future, I will bring you against my land as everyone watches, and my holiness will be displayed by what happens to you, Gog. Then all the nations will know that I am the LORD . 17 “This is what the Sovereign LORD asks: Are you the one I was talking about long ago, when I announced through Israel’s prophets that in the future I would bring you against my people? 18 But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! 19 In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day. 20 All living things—the fish in the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people on earth—will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth. 21 I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign LORD . Your men will turn their swords against each other. 22 I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur! 23 In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the LORD .
“We must take our hands off the things we can’t control and give them the handoff to God.”
Admittedly, though I like to believe that I’m laid-back, I am a low-key control freak, obsessed over the things I cannot control. In my brain, I see the many inefficiencies in life and if I could just get my hands on it, things would be much better (arrogant much?). As such, the things I do have control over tend to be neglected. I’m sure many of us are like that to some degree. The ironic thing is that God is looking at us to put our hands on the things we are meant to be obedient with, while keeping our hands off on the areas where only He can make the difference. This is where trust and obedience really come into play. When we trust that God is sovereign, we can more easily hand off the matters that really aren’t our own.
Obsessing over the things we cannot control in our lives is an unnecessary burden. All it does is cause us to remain stuck in neutral, feeling frustrated and hopeless. Friends, the devil likes us to be in this position because when we are preoccupied with what we can’t do, we aren’t doing the things we can do. For example, I forgot to post yesterday because I was focused on a myriad of things that are out of my control to fix. So rather than share the Good News, I stewed in my own thoughts. I share this so that you can look at your own lives and examine what needs to be handed off to God. Friends, our lives aren’t meant to feel burdened, hopeless, or overwhelming. We have to relent and give God control otherwise we end up needlessly stuck in neutral.
Are you ready to let God be God in your life?
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1 The LORD gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. 2 This is what the LORD says: “Tell the whole world, and keep nothing back. Raise a signal flag to tell everyone that Babylon will fall! Her images and idols will be shattered. Her gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced. 3 For a nation will attack her from the north and bring such destruction that no one will live there again. Everything will be gone; both people and animals will flee. 4 “In those coming days,” says the LORD, “the people of Israel will return home together with the people of Judah. They will come weeping and seeking the LORD their God. 5 They will ask the way to Jerusalem and will start back home again. They will bind themselves to the LORD with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten. 6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray and turned them loose in the mountains. They have lost their way and can’t remember how to get back to the sheepfold. 7 All who found them devoured them. Their enemies said, ‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them, for they sinned against the LORD, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors.’ 8 “But now, flee from Babylon! Leave the land of the Babylonians. Like male goats at the head of the flock, lead my people home again. 9 For I am raising up an army of great nations from the north. They will join forces to attack Babylon, and she will be captured. The enemies’ arrows will go straight to the mark; they will not miss! 10 Babylonia will be looted until the attackers are glutted with loot. I, the LORD, have spoken! 11 “You rejoice and are glad, you who plundered my chosen people. You frisk about like a calf in a meadow and neigh like a stallion. 12 But your homeland will be overwhelmed with shame and disgrace. You will become the least of nations— a wilderness, a dry and desolate land. 13 Because of the LORD ’s anger, Babylon will become a deserted wasteland. All who pass by will be horrified and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 14 “Yes, prepare to attack Babylon, all you surrounding nations. Let your archers shoot at her; spare no arrows. For she has sinned against the LORD . 15 Shout war cries against her from every side. Look! She surrenders! Her walls have fallen. It is the LORD ’s vengeance, so take vengeance on her. Do to her as she has done to others! 16 Take from Babylon all those who plant crops; send all the harvesters away. Because of the sword of the enemy, everyone will run away and rush back to their own lands. 17 “The Israelites are like sheep that have been scattered by lions. First the king of Assyria ate them up. Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon cracked their bones.” 18 Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 And I will bring Israel home again to its own land, to feed in the fields of Carmel and Bashan, and to be satisfied once more in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead. 20 In those days,” says the LORD, “no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah, for I will forgive the remnant I preserve. 21 “Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you,” says the LORD . 22 “Let the battle cry be heard in the land, a shout of great destruction. 23 Babylon, the mightiest hammer in all the earth, lies broken and shattered. Babylon is desolate among the nations! 24 Listen, Babylon, for I have set a trap for you. You are caught, for you have fought against the LORD . 25 The LORD has opened his armory and brought out weapons to vent his fury. The terror that falls upon the Babylonians will be the work of the Sovereign LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 26 Yes, come against her from distant lands. Break open her granaries. Crush her walls and houses into heaps of rubble. Destroy her completely, and leave nothing! 27 Destroy even her young bulls— it will be terrible for them, too! Slaughter them all! For Babylon’s day of reckoning has come. 28 Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon, as they tell in Jerusalem how the LORD our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple. 29 “Send out a call for archers to come to Babylon. Surround the city so none can escape. Do to her as she has done to others, for she has defied the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. 30 Her young men will fall in the streets and die. Her soldiers will all be killed,” says the LORD . 31 “See, I am your enemy, you arrogant people,” says the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your day of reckoning has arrived— the day when I will punish you. 32 O land of arrogance, you will stumble and fall, and no one will raise you up. For I will light a fire in the cities of Babylon that will burn up everything around them.” 33 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “The people of Israel and Judah have been wronged. Their captors hold them and refuse to let them go. 34 But the one who redeems them is strong. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. He will defend them and give them rest again in Israel. But for the people of Babylon there will be no rest! 35 “The sword of destruction will strike the Babylonians,” says the LORD . “It will strike the people of Babylon— her officials and wise men, too. 36 The sword will strike her wise counselors, and they will become fools. The sword will strike her mightiest warriors, and panic will seize them. 37 The sword will strike her horses and chariots and her allies from other lands, and they will all become like women. The sword will strike her treasures, and they all will be plundered. 38 A drought will strike her water supply, causing it to dry up. And why? Because the whole land is filled with idols, and the people are madly in love with them. 39 “Soon Babylon will be inhabited by desert animals and hyenas. It will be a home for owls. Never again will people live there; it will lie desolate forever. 40 I will destroy it as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns,” says the LORD . “No one will live there; no one will inhabit it. 41 “Look! A great army is coming from the north. A great nation and many kings are rising against you from far-off lands. 42 They are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. As they ride forward on horses, they sound like a roaring sea. They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about the enemy, and he is weak with fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped him, like those of a woman in labor. 44 “I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan, leaping on the sheep in the pasture. I will chase Babylon from its land, and I will appoint the leader of my choice. For who is like me, and who can challenge me? What ruler can oppose my will?” 45 Listen to the LORD ’s plans against Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep, and their homes will be destroyed. 46 The earth will shake with the shout, “Babylon has been taken!” and its cry of despair will be heard around the world.
“You’re either giving a Cain or an Abel offering; there is no in-between.”~TB
I have assisted my dad with this blog for almost 4 years. At first, I started as the editor/poster, adding the role of ‘writer’ along the way. In the beginning, it was my job to suss out the errors and formatting– general editor stuff. Occasionally, my father or mother would politely ask me to check my work. Back then, I thought what I was doing was the stuff of legends. I was assisting my father (and God), sacrificing my precious time for their pursuits. So naturally, as a foolish young person, I didn’t really take their feedback seriously and kept on my way. It was until a couple of weeks ago when I was formatting the blog posts for my dad’s upcoming books, that I had discovered not only was there a ton of errors the work was amazingly shoddy given my abilities.
Change with Humility
As I read the older blogs, the sting of conviction hit my gut as my mind recalled all of the editing conversations I had had with my dad years ago. See, he wasn’t forceful or persistent with the comments and yet, I would shove the notes aside as if my work was precise and perfect. Oh, youth! I was foolish to believe that I was helping my father and God when in reality it was they who were helping (and still are) me. As I laughed and repented for my foolishness, I was immediately reminded of the story of Cain and Abel. In the story of Cain and Abel, Abel did his best with his offering, and Cain perceived that his offering was great when it was not. But unlike the arrogance that blinds humans, God sees all and knows all.
Perception is not Reality
The jealousy that Cain felt towards Abel had nothing to do with his brother, but really it was Cain’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the crap that he himself presented to God. At that moment I realized, my work– or rather offering to God– was that of a Cain offering. In my arrogance, I believed that what I was doing was phenomenal, but really it was shoddy and unacceptable. Friends, we either give our best offering to God– an Abel offering. Or, we give our ‘meh’ offering to God– a Cain offering. Deep within our hearts, we know when we give which, so do not fool yourself into thinking God cannot spot the difference. Instead of devouring our brothers and sisters because of our lazy, corrupt thinking, spend your days working honestly as if God is standing next to you so that your daily offerings are deemed acceptable to the Lord.
Are you giving an honest offering or are you honestly fooling yourself?
Enjoy the reading
1King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
2“Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
3You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
4“‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war
5but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD .’”
6So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah.
7At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
8This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves.
9He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage.
10The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command,
11but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12So the LORD gave them this message through Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt.
14I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me.
15Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name.
16But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth.
18Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.
19Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath.
20I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21“I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while,
22I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”