“Take a balanced and Biblical approach when examining the stages of your life.”~TB
We all perceive our life experience based on our level of faith, emotional maturity, and memory. How you look at certain moments depends on where your mind is and how much influence Christ has on your perspective. I’ll give you an example. My dad took me and my siblings everywhere with him. He was a teacher at our schools and we helped out at his music studio after school or were taking music lessons. On weekends we’d either play or help out on gigs. Or, we’d be doing yard work or something labor-intensive. He ran a tight ship, kept us close, and told many stories about life. Many would call my upbringing strict (however, if you knew how my brain worked, you’d keep me on a tight leash too). Sure, I wasn’t a fan of shoveling wood chips, but looking back on my childhood, my dad instilled the tools and foundation of faith that help me succeed to this day. In addition to the above, my dad was/is a total goof-ball, taking my siblings and I on elevator rides, climbing trees, etc. He also would buy every single book I requested (It would be a list at least 20 books deep) at every book fair. His love for God and sitting us down on Sundays to read the Bible and have discussions was probably the only reason I ever entertained getting to know God. I can change a tire, lay down tile, paint a house, and a whole bunch of other skills. I also would not have a business-oriented mindset had he not included us in his business dealings. My point in saying this is that life’s experience depends on how you look at it and it’s impossible to look at one scenario to get a complete picture.
We now live in a time where family dynamics are heavily scrutinized and the world tells us that parents who set boundaries and standards are stifling their kids. If I had a dollar for how many stories I’ve heard from people about their parents and how it impacted their lives, well, I wouldn’t have to work. If you look at life or your family based on the world’s standards, it’s going to look ugly. That’s because for some odd reason, society has taught us to expect its version of familial perfection without the nuance of God, grace, mercy or forgiveness. One of the greatest aspects of the Old Testament is the many examples of family dynamics. You’ve got siblings selling their brother into slavery. You’ve got a brother stealing a birthright. You’ve got women fighting over a baby. I mean the stories are far and wide. What these stories tell us is that families are not perfect and every family has some sort of dysfunction. More to the point, even when we do drop the ball, we aren’t the sum total of our mistakes. God calls us to set our egos aside and to love and forgive everyone— family included. Maybe your family experience was terrible or less than ideal. Truth is, we cannot get from people what only God can give us. If you let him, God will reconcile your experience, but you have to look at all things considered from Christ’s perspective.
All things considered, are you grateful for the life God gave you?
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1This message came to me concerning Egypt: Look! The LORD is advancing against Egypt, riding on a swift cloud. The idols of Egypt tremble. The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.
2“I will make Egyptian fight against Egyptian— brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, province against province.
3The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will confuse their plans. They will plead with their idols for wisdom and call on spirits, mediums, and those who consult the spirits of the dead.
4I will hand Egypt over to a hard, cruel master. A fierce king will rule them,” says the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
5The waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields. The riverbed will be parched and dry.
6The canals of the Nile will dry up, and the streams of Egypt will stink with rotting reeds and rushes.
7All the greenery along the riverbank and all the crops along the river will dry up and blow away.
8The fishermen will lament for lack of work. Those who cast hooks into the Nile will groan, and those who use nets will lose heart.
9There will be no flax for the harvesters, no thread for the weavers.
10They will be in despair, and all the workers will be sick at heart.
11What fools are the officials of Zoan! Their best counsel to the king of Egypt is stupid and wrong. Will they still boast to Pharaoh of their wisdom? Will they dare brag about all their wise ancestors?
12Where are your wise counselors, Pharaoh? Let them tell you what God plans, what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is going to do to Egypt.
13The officials of Zoan are fools, and the officials of Memphis are deluded. The leaders of the people have led Egypt astray.
14The LORD has sent a spirit of foolishness on them, so all their suggestions are wrong. They cause Egypt to stagger like a drunk in his vomit.
15There is nothing Egypt can do. All are helpless— the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.
16In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
17Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them.
18In that day five of Egypt’s cities will follow the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. They will even begin to speak Hebrew, the language of Canaan. One of these cities will be Heliopolis, the City of the Sun.
19In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and there will be a monument to the LORD at its border.
20It will be a sign and a witness that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is worshiped in the land of Egypt. When the people cry to the LORD for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them.
21The LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the LORD and will give their sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the LORD and will keep it.
22The LORD will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.
23In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway. The Egyptians and Assyrians will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God.
24In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.
25For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!”
“Be diligent in the tasks you have to complete because your reward comes from God, not man.”~TB
Exploitation of workers is nothing new and can be traced back all the way to the beginning of man. Just ask the Israelites. Today, many work for pennies on the dollar all the while employers act like you’re supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to make them richer. Fortunately, our reward does not come from our employers but from God.
Even when the scales of this world are tipped in the favor of the wicked, God will balance them for those He sees fit. Keep an honest account of your work, your habits, and how you treat your neighbors. Even when those who seek to take what you have without payment, God will repay you and then some. So when you experience unfair situations from corrupt employers, focus on your task so that God can give you a raise.
Do you know who you’re working for?
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1 What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws.
2 They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.
3What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe?
4 You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
5 “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger.
6 I am sending Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.
7 But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation.
8 He will say, ‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.
9 We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish. Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.
10 Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
11 So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’”
12 After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant.
13 He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
14 I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”
15 But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
16 Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory.
17 The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
18 The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
19 Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive— so few that a child could count them!
20 In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
22 But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant of them will return. The LORD has rightly decided to destroy his people.
23 Yes, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has already decided to destroy the entire land.
24 So this is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago.
25 In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.”
26 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the LORD ’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.
27 In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.
28 Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath. They are passing through Migron and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
29 They are crossing the pass and are camping at Geba. Fear strikes the town of Ramah. All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, are running for their lives.
30 Scream in terror, you people of Gallim! Shout out a warning to Laishah. Oh, poor Anathoth!
31 There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing. The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.
32 The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day. He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
33 But look! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down.
34 He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.