“Cultivate your relationship with God so that you get what you need from Him, rather than bleeding dry the people around you.”~TB
We human beings are inherently needy, which is by design. We need God and when we seek Him, we find those needs met. The problem that many of us face is that we continually look to other people, places, or things to fulfill needs that only God can meet. This results in messed up relationships, poor substance choices, destructive habits, you name it, we’re doing it. Even worse, if you look at our society, we’re perpetuating and championing this broken system.
Instead of relying on the people around you, fill your need by going to the everlasting well that is Christ. Christ sustains us and never runs out or dries up. His Word is perfect, rejuvenating and full of the spiritual vitamins that heal our wounds and makes us whole once again. But first, we have to start by activating the relationship. God will never force His will on you, you must decide that you need him. And when that happens, your neediness finds its rightful place.
Are you spiritually needy or are you relying on unfit sources?
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1“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD .
2Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.
3But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number.
4Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD, have spoken!
5“For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
6And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
7“In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
8Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”
9My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them.
10For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning— its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have.
11“Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD .
12“Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the LORD, have spoken!
13“I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil, for they prophesied in the name of Baal and led my people of Israel into sin.
14But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were.”
15Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.”
16This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD !
17They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The LORD says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’
18“Have any of these prophets been in the LORD ’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
19Look! The LORD ’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
20The anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this very clearly.
21“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying.
22If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.
23Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD . “No, I am far away at the same time.
24Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD .
25“I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name.
26How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say.
27By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.
28“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain!
29Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD . “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?
30“Therefore,” says the LORD, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me.
31I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the LORD !’
32I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!
33“Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The LORD says he will abandon you!’
34“If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the LORD,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family.
35You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the LORD ’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’
36But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD .’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
37“This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD ’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’
38But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the LORD !’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the LORD,” even though I warned you not to use it,
39I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors.
40And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”
“Quiet reflection with God breeds thoughtful answers to the issues in your life.”~TB
One of the biggest struggles we face as humans in society is quieting the external noise to understand what is going on internally. The world as we know it is designed to put us in conflict with our natural state. Think about it, with so much external distraction and noise, your internal system functions like a jumbled cassette tape. It’s tough to sort through the chaos of our internal state unless we quiet the noise from outside. However, many of us are engaged in chaotic states because we are too scared of the quiet. Slowing down and taking stock of one’s life brings up some uncomfortable insights and the ugly “g-word”–growth.
If the chaos has grown too much and it’s time to get to the heart of the Truth, have a talk with God (which also happens to be the title of a neat Stevie Wonder song.) Honest answers come from an honest reflection and conversation with our Father in Heaven. It doesn’t have to be some dramatic or formal process, just ask a few simple questions and ask for direction. To get the most out of this reflection and quiet time with God honesty and humility are key. It requires us to set aside our foolish and flesh-minded thinking. Basically, we have to turn our backs on what ails us to receive the Holy antidote that is God’s wisdom. It’s a one-on-one conversation that only you and He can have. No preacher, teacher nor profit can do this for you, so steal away to a quiet place to reflect and chat with the one who calls you His.
Are you practicing quiet reflection or are you running amok?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you.
2Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message.
3Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!
4“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children.
5They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!
6So beware, for the time is coming, says the LORD, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
7“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals.
8I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there.
9I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’
10“As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought.
11Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them.
12This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the LORD . I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth.
13Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”
14Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the LORD . He said to the people there,
15“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”
“God never asks for perfection, just obedience.”~TB
Do you ever sit back and reflect on the standards that Christ has asked of us? Love your neighbor as yourself, don’t covet, forgive others, honor thy mother and father, and so on. These standards in of themselves are not difficult. They do not require a Ph.D. nor a mathematical background to practice. More to the point, even when we do screw those up, all we have to do is repent and turn from our stupidity. Imagine that! So why is it that we as people have come so far astray from those simple commandments and deeds? We’ve adopted our own morbid standards of human perfection (depravity) and have tossed God’s to the wayside. If you don’t believe me consider this: depending on the human audience, the standards change. But, God’s standards, never change no matter the audience or time period.
So if man’s standards change– as they often do– it can’t come as a massive surprise that we feel the instability and insecurity that is plaguing our society. From social standards, workplace standards, economic standards, it’s all over the place! This means, that instead of trying to perfect any standard, it’s always best to practice obeying the standards of Christ. Because God’s word never fails, deviates, and obscures, all we have is Him — which is all we need. Think about it; when we die, we can’t take any of this with us. What Suzy said about your outfit or the way you made your quiche does not come into play at the Pearly Gates. Jim’s amazing man cave or home gym does not matter one iota. Friends, imagine if we moved in the way that Christ asked of us. It would be interesting to see what we could accomplish and the peace that would ensue. So, instead of looking to be perfect, practice obeying what Christ has written on our hearts.
Are you practicing obedience or practicing stupidity?
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1This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain:
2“Judah wilts; commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem.
3The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief.
4The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are deeply troubled; they, too, cover their heads.
5Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass in the field.
6The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass, but there is none to be found.”
7The people say, “Our wickedness has caught up with us, LORD, but help us for the sake of your own reputation. We have turned away from you and sinned against you again and again.
8O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble, why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like a traveler passing through the land, stopping only for the night?
9Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD . We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!”
10So this is what the LORD says to his people: “You love to wander far from me and do not restrain yourselves. Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people. Now I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”
11Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.
12When they fast, I will pay no attention. When they present their burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.”
13Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The LORD will surely send you peace.’”
14Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.
15Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine!
16As for the people to whom they prophesy—their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one left to bury them. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters—all will be gone. For I will pour out their own wickedness on them.
17Now, Jeremiah, say this to them: “Night and day my eyes overflow with tears. I cannot stop weeping, for my virgin daughter—my precious people— has been struck down and lies mortally wounded.
18If I go out into the fields, I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy. If I walk the city streets, I see people who have died of starvation. The prophets and priests continue with their work, but they don’t know what they’re doing.”
19LORD, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you really hate Jerusalem? Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing? We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.
20LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you.
21For the sake of your reputation, LORD, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us.
22Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O LORD our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us.
“Learn the topics and teachings of Christ so that you may not spend your life off-topic.”~TB
You ever notice how many distracting things there are in this world? Between all of the apps, gadgets, gossip, social posturing, and the like, left unchecked, a whole lifetime can be wasted on things that do not matter. How odd! There is only so much time in a given day and before you know it, it’s gone as quickly as it arrived. If humans are so busy being plugged into the nonsense, it’s not hard to understand why people struggle to know who Christ actually is. More to the point, the opposition will leverage such distractions to keep people from being on topic. If you want to pursue a life of Christ, you must first learn what topics really matter so that you can discern truth from fake reality.
Take a moment to evaluate how and with whom you spend your time. Ask yourself if these things mirror the topics that God has placed in your heart. If you feel too distracted in your mind to know what those topics are, seek out the Word of God so that you can understand what this life is actually all about. When you know which topics are of Christ and which ones are not, it becomes easier to make the right decisions for your mind and time. Let’s not be mindless bots on a planet that seeks to distract and numb us from our calling. Instead, let’s be about Christ’s topics and how they can give us the peace and focus we seek.
Are you good at wasting away instead of being on topic?
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1LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?
2You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts.
3But as for me, LORD, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered!
4How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. For the people have said, “The LORD doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”
5“If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
6Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak.
7“I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.
8My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest, so I have treated them with contempt.
9My chosen people act like speckled vultures, but they themselves are surrounded by vultures. Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!
10“Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard, trampling down the vines and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares.
12On all the bare hilltops, destroying armies can be seen. The sword of the LORD devours people from one end of the nation to the other. No one will escape!
13My people have planted wheat but are harvesting thorns. They have worn themselves out, but it has done them no good. They will harvest a crop of shame because of the fierce anger of the LORD .”
14Now this is what the LORD says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them.
15But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession.
16And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people.
17But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Talking and walking are two different things.”~TB
It’s one thing to know the truth. Hearing about the amazing works of Christ, how He brings us together to realize and share the Good News, it’s awesome! But faith is an amalgamation of both belief and deed. To put it bluntly, you can say you believe and follow Christ, but if you’re not acting on it, what good is your word?
If you are looking to find healing, your belief has to be activated by your behavior. Sight alone does not change a situation, you have to activate your behavior. I can say I want to run a marathon, but if I’m not out there putting in the work, that dream is dead. Friends, we must all how ourselves accountable to the words and deeds we do or don’t do. Christ can fill the need, but we have to act on it.
Does your talk outshine your walk?
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1The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,
2“Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them.
3Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant!
4For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
5I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey—the land you live in today.’” Then I replied, “Amen, LORD ! May it be so.”
6Then the LORD said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires.
7For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day,
8but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.’”
9Again the LORD spoke to me and said, “I have discovered a conspiracy against me among the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
10They have returned to the sins of their ancestors. They have refused to listen to me and are worshiping other gods. Israel and Judah have both broken the covenant I made with their ancestors.
11Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries.
12Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes!
13Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.
14“Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress.
15“What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things? Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction? They actually rejoice in doing evil!
16I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken.
17“I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.”
18Then the LORD told me about the plots my enemies were making against me.
19I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”
20O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you make righteous judgments, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
21This is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the LORD ’s name.”
22So this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death.
23Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”
“You should feel relieved and confident that God will reward your good faith and work ethics by following His examples, understanding the biblical stories, sharing the Gospel, and applying your faith in your daily routines.” ~ Jon Barnes
When you develop a usual routine in prayer, talking with God, being obedient, and reading the bible, it becomes highly unusual for you to make silly mistakes. When you do make a mistake, you are quick to repent, learn, and move on. Your habits of following God’s instructions, commandments, and wisdom will be obvious for others to see and follow God’s routine. Your leadership and discipline will help others to become self-assured in following Christ to pick up their own cross for God and not something else.
When people can see that God is doing good things in your life, they will inquire about your success to analyze the process and witness the true hand of God on your lifestyle. There is a person for you to casually minister each day to water with Gospel moisture. Be sensitive to not overwater people, drowning them with your zeal. They will also tell you how much of a great job you are doing with thoughtful words and deeds with God’s truth. If they do not, it’s okay, God is the best eye-witness to your faith in Him.
It is a joy to hear how your work for God is enriching the lives of people all around you and I an thankful that many people share these thoughts from around the globe, in different languages, from many different cultures. Quality with God is supreme and more superior than the quantity of stuff, money, fame, or recognition. Be happy being you. The blessing is self-evident, self-less, and self-assuring when we love God, our families, ourselves, and people with the Spirit of God, who is Love.
How are you doing today and are you self-assured in Jesus with God’s Spirit of Love?
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The Raising of Lazarus
11 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world.10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!”13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem,19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him.31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept.36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. 46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.47 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs.48 If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.”
49 Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
51 He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation.52 And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.
53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.54 As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.
55 It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began.56 They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?”57 Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.
“Calmly work through your own issues with God so that your personal relationships will thrive, grow, and help others in need.” ~ Jon Barnes
Since you don’t know how much you can help someone in need, maintain a position of excellence to share with others at all times. Don’t worry about the rejection you will receive from some people for being competent, kind, good, honest, and, fair. Be prepared to give the best answer, pointing to biblical references so that people can find the resources of truth to study for themselves. Giving these resources of self-help is crucial to calm people in the midst of the storms in life.
Accent the obedient nature of good people who follow God’s vision and notice the rewards for doing so. Persecution is not punishment, but the process of excellence. Winning the war against evil is the goal, not winning your personal battles to do wicked things or to receive ill-gotten gain. Accent the truth in God at all times. God’s Love in Truth and in Spirit, He will fight the battles for you. Calmly point to these facts and try to relax.
I am always excited about the new things God will show me and I am always willing to share these new experiences with everyone. Remaining calm is not always easy for me to do. Betrayal, deception, and fake news is all around us. Nevertheless, it is my prayer that people share the love of God in a way that is honest, helpful, hopeful, and full of love so that the next generation become better fathers and mothers of the future. Being persecuted for doing good work is a good thing!
Will your children become better parents based on your example?
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Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees,14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him.15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.”22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses!29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from?31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.
35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
38 “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.
39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.
Salvation is the beginning to a potentially wild adventure. God has massive plans for you and all of His children. The challenge lies in if we’re willing to answer the call. Contrary to popular belief, God did not create us just to overcome problem after problem. We are not meant to be just barely clinging to the hope of Christ. In order to undertake whatever call that has been placed on your life, you must undergo the changes and growing pains that come along with it.
As a kid, I would accompany my family back to Maryland to visit relatives. Being a crab state, I remember watching my great grandmother prepare the crabs, AKA sticking these none the wiser crabs into their heated doom. Once the water got hot, you could hear the crabs scrambling to get out of the pot. When we are going through changes and growing periods, it can feel like you’re a crab in a boiling pot of water, desperately trying to get out before you meet your doom. But, unlike the crab, what lies in store for us is not our doom, but our freedom from whatever binds us in life.
Changing Your Tune
Growing pains are typically a mental shift rather than a physical one. To understand and accept the plan God has in place for you, you first must accept that He wants a victorious life for you. Victory comes in many forms, not just the “million dollars and fancy houses”. Victory can be over your health, sobriety, relationships, and so on. Instead of trying to ‘get out of the boiling pot’, lean on God and lean into the discipline of making changes. As my dad says often, “You eat the elephant one bite at a time”. So the next time you feel the boiling temptation of going off course, consult God, accept His plan, and take calculated steps to get there. His Ways are ultimately and infinitely far better than ours.
1Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!”
2Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes?
3“I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes.
4For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors.
5I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.
6I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth.”
7I will tell of the LORD ’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
8He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.” And he became their Savior.
9In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
10But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.
11Then they remembered those days of old when Moses led his people out of Egypt. They cried out, “Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea, with Moses as their shepherd? Where is the one who sent his Holy Spirit to be among his people?
12Where is the one whose power was displayed when Moses lifted up his hand— the one who divided the sea before them, making himself famous forever?
13Where is the one who led them through the bottom of the sea? They were like fine stallions racing through the desert, never stumbling.
14As with cattle going down into a peaceful valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. You led your people, LORD, and gained a magnificent reputation.”
15LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?
16Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
17LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession.
18How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place, and now our enemies have destroyed it.
19Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.
“To experience God’s eternal state of peace, first, change your state of mind.”~TB
The busyness of life can have us feeling all over the place and going nowhere at the same time. When you’re stressed out or overwhelmed it’s easy to start looking at peace as a destination. I’ve even caught myself recently thinking “If I can make it to ‘abc’ then I can be at peace”. Friends, that is foolish thinking because as anyone who’s lived on this earth knows: if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Peace does not come from changed circumstances. It comes from leaning on the strength of Christ and giving Him your burdens so that you may experience His peace.
When you resolve to change your mindset instead of your circumstances, that’s when God can transform you internally. We have to do out part in relying on Him, so that He can make the changes within. In a world that teaches us that we are in control, it can be quite difficult to relinquish the reins of your life. But, the funny part is, that when you do, you begin to realize that you were never in control in the first place! It’s a joyful thing to know that God works in all things all of the time. So, instead of looking for a peaceful destination, allow God to make peace in your heart and mind so that you may know how to continually experience it each and every day.
Is the peace you’re seeking eternal or temporary?
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1Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
2The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD ’s own mouth.
3The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God.
4Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
5Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
6O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD .
7Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
8The LORD has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine.
9You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the LORD . Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”
10Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see.
11The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
12They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD .” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”
“God is a never-ending well of which we can draw from. His stability and consistency will always bring us peace, joy, and contentment, quenching our thirst.”~TB
I recently met up with an old friend of mine. We exchanged hilarious stories about our family holiday events over coffee. One of the things I enjoy about our conversations is the candor about family dynamics. While the people in our lives don’t inherently intend to emotionally drain us, sometimes they lack the foundational stability to refrain from those negative habits. More to the point, if you don’t know where to go to for emotional/spiritual stability, those exchanges can leave you feeling depleted, weary, and drained.
Friends, if you only rely on the emotional support of other human beings, you’re in for a long and bumpy ride. Many of us are participating in selfish, emotional vampire behaviors, taking from others and giving nothing in return. I feel for younger generations who are being brainwashed by the latest trends and societal behaviors. Most of what people are being taught is self-centered, indulgent and careless. This isn’t to be mean, it’s just an observation of a broken world doubling down on soul-sucking lifestyles. If you’re feeling depleted, listless, and in a rut, it’s time to learn where to draw your water from. Hanging out with God on a daily basis is beneficial for the renewal of your spirit.
Consulting God on the day to day is like getting your daily water from the best well out there. It provides the water you need to go about your day with the spiritual rejuvenation that can only come from Christ. There’s plenty for everyone and the benefits are unlimited. When you lay your burdens down before God, you relieve yourself from the toxic junk of the world. By doing so, you know not to dump on other people, repeating the toxic cycle. If you’re weary, call out to Him so that He can restore you. Drink from the Holy Well so that you do not thirst for makeshift beverages of the world. We cannot change the people that we interact with only the daily. However when we get our Daily Water from God’s Well, those interactions hold less of an impact.
Are you drinking from His Well or is the soda of the world more appealing?
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1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD ’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
4They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.
5Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.
6You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches.
7Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
8“For I, the LORD, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”
10I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.
11The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.