It’s human nature to think that just because you have the tools in your possession, you’re solid. Some of us spend a lifetime collecting the world’s best and shiniest tools only to let them sit and gather dust. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you ever use them, having them is what counts. We put these tools on display so that our peers can see how “prepared” and amazing we are, yet when it comes down to it, we’ve probably never even read the instruction manual to most of it. Oh man, with that kind of thinking, it’s no wonder why we struggle as a collective to discern the truth from the fake, good from evil, and so on. Yes, having the tools is a step in the right direction, but how effective can they be if you don’t ever use them?
I could have a state of the art gym in my house. However, if I don’t actually use it, how effective is just having the stuff around? The same concept can be applied to us and the Bible. Ask yourself, how much are you actually reading it? How often are you applying its wisdom to your life? If we spend more time binge-watching our favorite shows or zoning out to our preferred method of escapism, can we really blame the tools? Friends, it’s time that we put our tools to the test and use them to our advantage. The Living Word has a host of benefits that will serve you well all through your life. That said, you can only find that out if you use it.
Are you collecting God’s tools or are you using them?
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1This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.
2This is what the LORD said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather straps.
3Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem.
4Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
5With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose.
6Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.
7All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon.
8So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the LORD . I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.
9“‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.”
10They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die.
11But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”
12Then I repeated this same message to King Zedekiah of Judah. “If you want to live, submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people.
13Why do you insist on dying—you and your people? Why should you choose war, famine, and disease, which the LORD will bring against every nation that refuses to submit to Babylon’s king?
14Do not listen to the false prophets who keep telling you, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are liars.
15This is what the LORD says: ‘I have not sent these prophets! They are telling you lies in my name, so I will drive you from this land. You will all die—you and all these prophets, too.’”
16Then I spoke to the priests and the people and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not listen to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie!
17Do not listen to them. Surrender to the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this whole city be destroyed?
18If they really are prophets and speak the LORD ’s messages, let them pray to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Let them pray that the articles remaining in the LORD ’s Temple and in the king’s palace and in the palaces of Jerusalem will not be carried away to Babylon!’
19“For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken about the pillars in front of the Temple, the great bronze basin called the Sea, the water carts, and all the other ceremonial articles.
20King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left them here when he exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon, along with all the other nobles of Judah and Jerusalem.
21Yes, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about the precious things still in the Temple, in the palace of Judah’s king, and in Jerusalem:
22‘They will all be carried away to Babylon and will stay there until I send for them,’ says the LORD . ‘Then I will bring them back to Jerusalem again.’”
“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.
“Don’t live by the judgments of man, only God can see you as you truly are.”~TB
Every single human being has insecurities, blind spots, and a slew of fallible qualities that make us terrible judges of character. For this reason, you cannot place your value in the hands of others. When we give people the authority to dictate how we see ourselves, chaos and imbalance ensues. That’s because humans are flawed and are unable to judge one another with the grace and unconditional love that can only come from our Father in Heaven. Even with the best intentions, we will fail each other, and we will fall short of each other’s expectations. So when a human condemns your character on circumstantial evidence, do your best to let it go, because holding on to the judgment of others hinders your personal and spiritual growth.
When you care about how you are viewed by others, you are essentially making your peers your god. This cripples you from being who God truly called you to be. You’re so busy worrying about offending, being uncool, or being seen as weird or different, that you don’t know who you are. Fortunately, this happens to all of us, but you don’t have to let it be a lifelong sentence. To really understand your true identity, develop your relationship with Christ. When you engage with Him regularly, He will show you who you really are— His. God’s opinion of you is infinitely more perfect and accurate than even your own parents. Because His opinion and judgment of you never waivers, you can stand firm on His promise and will for your life.
Whose authority are you submitting to?
1Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a rich and fertile hill.
2He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.
3Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah, you judge between me and my vineyard.
4What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?
5Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it.
6I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.
7The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.
8What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field, until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.
9But I have heard the LORD of Heaven’s Armies swear a solemn oath: “Many houses will stand deserted; even beautiful mansions will be empty.
10Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”
11What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk.
12They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties— lyre and harp, tambourine and flute— but they never think about the LORD or notice what he is doing.
13So my people will go into exile far away because they do not know me. Those who are great and honored will starve, and the common people will die of thirst.
14The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.
15Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.
16But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.
17In that day lambs will find good pastures, and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.
18What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
19They even mock God and say, “Hurry up and do something! We want to see what you can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan, for we want to know what it is.”
20What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.
22What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.
23They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent.
24Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble and dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will rot and their flowers wither. For they have rejected the law of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies; they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25That is why the LORD ’s anger burns against his people, and why he has raised his fist to crush them. The mountains tremble, and the corpses of his people litter the streets like garbage. But even then the LORD ’s anger is not satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike!
26He will send a signal to distant nations far away and whistle to those at the ends of the earth. They will come racing toward Jerusalem.
27They will not get tired or stumble. They will not stop for rest or sleep. Not a belt will be loose, not a sandal strap broken.
28Their arrows will be sharp and their bows ready for battle. Sparks will fly from their horses’ hooves, and the wheels of their chariots will spin like a whirlwind.
29They will roar like lions, like the strongest of lions. Growling, they will pounce on their victims and carry them off, and no one will be there to rescue them.
30They will roar over their victims on that day of destruction like the roaring of the sea. If someone looks across the land, only darkness and distress will be seen; even the light will be darkened by clouds.
“If being authentic requires you to physically change yourself, that’s not authenticity”~TB
As You Are
We live in a time where people scream authenticity yet their behaviors and desires say anything but. Their bodies, minds, and spirit are chemically, physically, and mentally altered by man-made foolishness. Society–backed by money-hungry companies– spend millions of dollars to create a fake utopian illusion that distorts love and teaches people they are not good enough as they are. Instead, you need to spend money to be considered acceptable. Do you know who already considers you beautiful and acceptable? God. He made you and already paid the ultimate price for you. No marketing department of any corporation will ever invest that much on you.
Open Your Eyes
If being the ‘real’ you requires you to change your appearance, how real are you? There is another name for that; idolatry. Friends, be wary of people, products, and businesses that profit off of your insecurity. God created you as you are intended. Open your eyes and see that the very people shouting ‘freedom, self-expression, and choice’ are trapping you into their distorted version of reality. If freedom means conforming to a society built by a fallen world, that is not freedom. If practicing ‘self-love’ involves discarding the teachings of the Bible, truly that is not love at all! Watch yourselves on this slippery slope. Stop being enticed into self-worship, seeking validation from other confused people. If it’s authenticity and love that you seek, turn your eyes to God.
Are you an authentic Child of God or has this sin-fallen world taught you to be your own god?
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1Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
2Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
3Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
“Stop looking to man for validation. Only God’s validation brings salvation, all else brings destruction”~TB
As humans, we are flawed, flesh-driven creatures, prone to activities that are detestable in the eyes of God. For this reason, we cannot look to one another for approval. When you look to your peers for validation, you’re literally practicing idol worship. When you avert your gaze from God and turn towards man, we eventually fall into the snare of their evil desires. Think about it, when you crave the validation of man, you are more susceptible to fall prey to their carnal practices. Slowly but surely, they begin soliciting you with corrupt activities. Because you begin to fear losing that validation, you are willing to compromise the Truth for a lie in order to keep your empty status. How foolish!
Even with everything you know, why do you still seek the validation of heathens? You shamelessly follow their evil ways, accepting and contributing to their immoral practices. And for what, a seat at the table that is on the fast track to hell? Are you that foolish to believe that temporary popularity is far better than validation in eternity? Turn your eyes to the Lord before you go to your final resting place. Come judgment day you will see whose validation truly matters.
Are you willing to sacrifice your salvation just for the temporary validation of a sin-fallen world?
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1Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.
2Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God.
3Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.
4Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you.
5O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
6Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD ; hear my urgent cry.
7I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.
8No pagan god is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do!
9All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name.
10For you are great and perform wonderful deeds. You alone are God.
11Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.
12With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever,
13for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.
14O God, insolent people rise up against me; a violent gang is trying to kill me. You mean nothing to them.
15But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant.
17Send me a sign of your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O LORD, help and comfort me.
“Many of us are shamed into doing the right things because we see that others are doing such a great job for God and it is good that I should, stepped up my game, because of what I learned from God, my family, friends, and enemies.” ~ Jon Barnes
It is good to improve and change from your shameful ways, after seeing how wonderfully God has blessed you and others.This is called positive peer pleasure, which is self-inflicted, positive pressure that helps motivate all of us to improve in working for God. Rejoice with those who inspire you and continue in this manner to increase your passion and love for Your Creator, Father God.
Continue in your well doing, sacrifice, and focus upon God so that each day is fresh, new, and more wonderful than the last in all circumstances.I can say that I’m having the time of my life in every second God gives me!Praise God with all that you are and have so that you can be rich in the Kingdom.For me, this type of work is done in the middle of the night, when only God is watching and the overflow follows by day.
Do not copy your family’s history of alcohol, drug, sex, greed, hypocrisy, and other abusive lifestyle ways!But copy God’s Laws, Commandments, and Wonderful ways of living a clean, honest life as a habit.Repent and enjoy the fruits of the Spirit in obedience and not the fruits of shamefulness.
Are you a Hypocrite like many of God’s Children from the past and the future?
Darius Approves the Rebuilding
6 So King Darius issued orders that a search be made in the Babylonian archives, which were stored in the treasury.2 But it was at the fortress at Ecbatana in the province of Media that a scroll was found. This is what it said:
3 “In the first year of King Cyrus’s reign, a decree was sent out concerning the Temple of God at Jerusalem.
“Let the Temple be rebuilt on the site where Jews used to offer their sacrifices, using the original foundations. Its height will be ninety feet, and its width will be ninety feet.[a]4 Every three layers of specially prepared stones will be topped by a layer of timber. All expenses will be paid by the royal treasury.5 Furthermore, the gold and silver cups, which were taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, must be returned to Jerusalem and put back where they belong. Let them be taken back to the Temple of God.”
6 So King Darius sent this message:
“Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River,[b]and Shethar-bozenai, and your colleagues and other officials west of the Euphrates River—stay away from there!7 Do not disturb the construction of the Temple of God. Let it be rebuilt on its original site, and do not hinder the governor of Judah and the elders of the Jews in their work.
8 “Moreover, I hereby decree that you are to help these elders of the Jews as they rebuild this Temple of God. You must pay the full construction costs, without delay, from my taxes collected in the province west of the Euphrates River so that the work will not be interrupted.
9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day.10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons.
11 “Those who violate this decree in any way will have a beam pulled from their house. Then they will be lifted up and impaled on it, and their house will be reduced to a pile of rubble.[c]12 May the God who has chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place to honor his name destroy any king or nation that violates this command and destroys this Temple.
“I, Darius, have issued this decree. Let it be obeyed with all diligence.”
The Temple’s Dedication
13 Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues complied at once with the command of King Darius.14 So the Jewish elders continued their work, and they were greatly encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia.15 The Temple was completed on March 12,[d] during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign.
16 The Temple of God was then dedicated with great joy by the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the people who had returned from exile.17 During the dedication ceremony for the Temple of God, 100 young bulls, 200 rams, and 400 male lambs were sacrificed. And 12 male goats were presented as a sin offering for the twelve tribes of Israel.18 Then the priests and Levites were divided into their various divisions to serve at the Temple of God in Jerusalem, as prescribed in the Book of Moses.
Celebration of Passover
19 On April 21[e] the returned exiles celebrated Passover.20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were ceremonially clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves.21 The Passover meal was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile and by the others in the land who had turned from their corrupt practices to worship the Lord, the God of Israel.22 Then they celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There was great joy throughout the land because the Lord had caused the king of Assyria[f] to be favorable to them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God, the God of Israel.