“Building a relationship with God is a worthy labor that pays more dividends than all of the stocks combined.”
When God is the priority in your life, your path becomes clearer as you work to get your affairs in order. Because He knows all and you’ve done the work to connect with the Holy Spirit, your footsteps are directed to the objectives God has for you.
Building that relationship is a labor because we all have a choice. We must deny our flesh-driven desires, turn our eyes above, and work to know our maker. Friends, that is a daily labor as we are painfully human and require consistent and continuous effort to do what is right. Thank God for forgiveness and everlasting love.
To know God is to know Truth and the world goes against that truth. The world will lead you on a carnal path destined for destruction. Spending time with God allows you to discern the real from the fake; Good from evil. Learn to find joy in walking with Christ as He delights in those who seek Him.
Are you doing the labor to know God?
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1 Then the LORD thundered, “Bring on the men appointed to punish the city! Tell them to bring their weapons with them!” 2 Six men soon appeared from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen, who carried a writer’s case at his side. They all went into the Temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the LORD called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case. 4 He said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” 5 Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! 6 Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. 7 “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with corpses. Go!” So they went and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were out killing, I was all alone. I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign LORD ! Will your fury against Jerusalem wipe out everyone left in Israel?” 9 Then he said to me, “The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very, very great. The entire land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, ‘The LORD doesn’t see it! The LORD has abandoned the land!’ 10 So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done.” 11 Then the man in linen clothing, who carried the writer’s case, reported back and said, “I have done as you commanded.”
“When you allow others to dictate your relationship with God, it’s not a relationship at all.”
The moment I realized that my relationship with God was a 1:1 endeavor, my understanding of Christ and His purpose in my life changed. Rather than going to others to tell me who He is, I began to ask Him directly. Let’s just say, it was a game-changer. Friends, if you aspire to know God, you have to talk with Him! I can’t do it for you. Your pastor can’t do it for you. Your mom and dad can’t do it, and so on.
The opposition will use liars and thieves to act as fool’s gold to get you off of your path to Christ. When you don’t ask God about God, you believe anyone shoddy imitation with a charming personality and smooth words. Friends, be vigilant in who/what you give your attention to. If this year has taught us anything is that this world is not what it seems and neither are the people who have chosen it over Christ.
When your relationship comes directly from the source that is God, all of the cheap imitations, the false teachers, preachers, prophets and the like become more easily identifiable. You begin to spot the real from the fake, and even better, you get the truth from the Truth. It all starts with God. You have to seek Him out. He doesn’t just bust through the door. So, if you truly desire an honest relationship with the Lord, say ‘hey’ and let Him into your life.
How are you going to let the godless tell you about God?
1 “And now, son of man, take a large clay brick and set it down in front of you. Then draw a map of the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Show the city under siege. Build a wall around it so no one can escape. Set up the enemy camp, and surround the city with siege ramps and battering rams. 3 Then take an iron griddle and place it between you and the city. Turn toward the city and demonstrate how harsh the siege will be against Jerusalem. This will be a warning to the people of Israel. 4 “Now lie on your left side and place the sins of Israel on yourself. You are to bear their sins for the number of days you lie there on your side. 5 I am requiring you to bear Israel’s sins for 390 days—one day for each year of their sin. 6 After that, turn over and lie on your right side for 40 days—one day for each year of Judah’s sin. 7 “Meanwhile, keep staring at the siege of Jerusalem. Lie there with your arm bared and prophesy her destruction. 8 I will tie you up with ropes so you won’t be able to turn from side to side until the days of your siege have been completed. 9 “Now go and get some wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer wheat, and mix them together in a storage jar. Use them to make bread for yourself during the 390 days you will be lying on your side. 10 Ration this out to yourself, eight ounces of food for each day, and eat it at set times. 11 Then measure out a jar of water for each day, and drink it at set times. 12 Prepare and eat this food as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire using dried human dung as fuel and then eat the bread.” 13 Then the LORD said, “This is how Israel will eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which I will banish them!” 14 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, must I be defiled by using human dung? For I have never been defiled before. From the time I was a child until now I have never eaten any animal that died of sickness or was killed by other animals. I have never eaten any meat forbidden by the law.” 15 “All right,” the LORD said. “You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.” 16 Then he told me, “Son of man, I will make food very scarce in Jerusalem. It will be weighed out with great care and eaten fearfully. The water will be rationed out drop by drop, and the people will drink it with dismay. 17 Lacking food and water, people will look at one another in terror, and they will waste away under their punishment.
“Be diligent in the company you keep and the actions you engage in, because the Bible shares a variety of wisdom for a reason.”
There is nothing subtle about the content within the Bible. In fact, many declarations and accounts are written more than once! Cling to the Living Word, because it is THE foundational truth of which we have to build our lives on. If you don’t, you will be tricked by the false imitations, foolishly lying down with dogs and waking up with fleas. In all things that you do, keep the Word close, and let it guide your minds, hearts, and actions.
God says love everyone. That said, He does not say trust everyone and that is a key distinction we must take into account. Love should be freely given, but trust, that is earned. In fact, when it came to men of God, those who spoke on His behalf, He called his people to discernment and to look for proof. So why is it in the present we blindly believe anyone with a captivating word, but then turnaround and blame God when they’re revealed to be a charlatan? When you look to bring people into your world, listen to their words, but trust their deeds! Take heed of the wisdom repeated in the word so that your discernment is as sharp as a razor-edge sword.
Do you listen to the wisdom of the Bible of the sweet nothings of the corrupt?
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1 On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. 3 (The LORD gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the LORD take hold of him.) 4 As I looked, I saw a great storm coming from the north, driving before it a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber. 5 From the center of the cloud came four living beings that looked human, 6 except that each had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and their feet had hooves like those of a calf and shone like burnished bronze. 8 Under each of their four wings I could see human hands. So each of the four beings had four faces and four wings. 9 The wings of each living being touched the wings of the beings beside it. Each one moved straight forward in any direction without turning around. 10 Each had a human face in the front, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle at the back. 11 Each had two pairs of outstretched wings—one pair stretched out to touch the wings of the living beings on either side of it, and the other pair covered its body. 12 They went in whatever direction the spirit chose, and they moved straight forward in any direction without turning around. 13 The living beings looked like bright coals of fire or brilliant torches, and lightning seemed to flash back and forth among them. 14 And the living beings darted to and fro like flashes of lightning. 15 As I looked at these beings, I saw four wheels touching the ground beside them, one wheel belonging to each. 16 The wheels sparkled as if made of beryl. All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. 17 The beings could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. 18 The rims of the four wheels were tall and frightening, and they were covered with eyes all around. 19 When the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. When they flew upward, the wheels went up, too. 20 The spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. So wherever the spirit went, the wheels and the living beings also went. 21 When the beings moved, the wheels moved. When the beings stopped, the wheels stopped. When the beings flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. 22 Spread out above them was a surface like the sky, glittering like crystal. 23 Beneath this surface the wings of each living being stretched out to touch the others’ wings, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 As they flew, their wings sounded to me like waves crashing against the shore or like the voice of the Almighty or like the shouting of a mighty army. When they stopped, they let down their wings. 25 As they stood with wings lowered, a voice spoke from beyond the crystal surface above them. 26 Above this surface was something that looked like a throne made of blue lapis lazuli. And on this throne high above was a figure whose appearance resembled a man. 27 From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. 28 All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the LORD looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.
“When you’re spiritually out of gas, go to God for some roadside assistance.”
To the Limit
During my time on the road, driving for 7-hour blocks was not uncommon. So much so that I became an expert at driving well past the ‘low fuel’ indicator. Way after the light came on, I’d be driving as if I had a full tank of gas. I knew that I could push it for 50-60 miles before I was in any real trouble. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s done this, minus my mother who I’m sure refills once at the quarter mark, haha. Just as I push my limit with gas in my car, at times I forget to refuel my spiritual tank. This difference is that a low spiritual fuel signal may not be as apparent as the signal in our cars, but it’s even more important in the grand scheme of things.
Out of Gas
When we run out of spiritual gas, weariness, fatigue, listlessness, disappointment, fear, anger– all of the not so great emotions take hold. Somewhere along our journey, we avert our attention from God– who replenishes us each and every day– to whatever issues and troubles plague our day to day lives. This causes us to burn up our spiritual fuel faster, and even more to the point, we begin to stop going to the Holy Fuel Center that is Christ himself. Before we know it, we’ve abandoned the car and are stranded out, unsure of how we got here and how we get back. Thank God (literally) for us, that He is our Holy AAA, offering unlimited tow miles and refills.
Beauty in the Breakdown
Friends, I know for one reason or another, we’re all pretty weary and in need of some spiritual fuel. God is never far from us, no matter where we are in our walks. I know that can be tough to realize, especially when you feel like you’re miles and miles away, I know I’ve been there. When we breakdown (which will happen on occasion), there is a beautiful truth that we have to hold onto. Whatever is causing you to burn through your spiritual fuel is a burden that you or I are not capable of dealing with on our own! God designed us to be in relationship with Him, which is why we must call on Him daily. No matter how near or far you breakdown, God is only one call out, one prayer, heck, one cry for help away. All we have to do is ask.
What’s keeping you from asking God for spiritual fuel?
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1 The Lord in his anger has cast a dark shadow over beautiful Jerusalem. The fairest of Israel’s cities lies in the dust, thrown down from the heights of heaven. In his day of great anger, the Lord has shown no mercy even to his Temple. 2 Without mercy the Lord has destroyed every home in Israel. In his anger he has broken down the fortress walls of beautiful Jerusalem. He has brought them to the ground, dishonoring the kingdom and its rulers. 3 All the strength of Israel vanishes beneath his fierce anger. The Lord has withdrawn his protection as the enemy attacks. He consumes the whole land of Israel like a raging fire. 4 He bends his bow against his people, as though he were their enemy. His strength is used against them to kill their finest youth. His fury is poured out like fire on beautiful Jerusalem. 5 Yes, the Lord has vanquished Israel like an enemy. He has destroyed her palaces and demolished her fortresses. He has brought unending sorrow and tears upon beautiful Jerusalem. 6 He has broken down his Temple as though it were merely a garden shelter. The LORD has blotted out all memory of the holy festivals and Sabbath days. Kings and priests fall together before his fierce anger. 7 The Lord has rejected his own altar; he despises his own sanctuary. He has given Jerusalem’s palaces to her enemies. They shout in the LORD ’s Temple as though it were a day of celebration. 8 The LORD was determined to destroy the walls of beautiful Jerusalem. He made careful plans for their destruction, then did what he had planned. Therefore, the ramparts and walls have fallen down before him. 9 Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground. He has smashed their locks and bars. Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; her law has ceased to exist. Her prophets receive no more visions from the LORD . 10 The leaders of beautiful Jerusalem sit on the ground in silence. They are clothed in burlap and throw dust on their heads. The young women of Jerusalem hang their heads in shame. 11 I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken. My spirit is poured out in agony as I see the desperate plight of my people. Little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. 12 They cry out to their mothers, “We need food and drink!” Their lives ebb away in the streets like the life of a warrior wounded in battle. They gasp for life as they collapse in their mothers’ arms. 13 What can I say about you? Who has ever seen such sorrow? O daughter of Jerusalem, to what can I compare your anguish? O virgin daughter of Zion, how can I comfort you? For your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you? 14 Your prophets have said so many foolish things, false to the core. They did not save you from exile by pointing out your sins. Instead, they painted false pictures, filling you with false hope. 15 All who pass by jeer at you. They scoff and insult beautiful Jerusalem, saying, “Is this the city called ‘Most Beautiful in All the World’ and ‘Joy of All the Earth’?” 16 All your enemies mock you. They scoff and snarl and say, “We have destroyed her at last! We have long waited for this day, and it is finally here!” 17 But it is the LORD who did just as he planned. He has fulfilled the promises of disaster he made long ago. He has destroyed Jerusalem without mercy. He has caused her enemies to gloat over her and has given them power over her. 18 Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. 19 Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger. 20 “O LORD, think about this! Should you treat your own people this way? Should mothers eat their own children, those they once bounced on their knees? Should priests and prophets be killed within the Lord’s Temple? 21 “See them lying in the streets— young and old, boys and girls, killed by the swords of the enemy. You have killed them in your anger, slaughtering them without mercy. 22 “You have invited terrors from all around, as though you were calling them to a day of feasting. In the day of the LORD ’s anger, no one has escaped or survived. The enemy has killed all the children whom I carried and raised.”
“Quirks and flaws, thank God He still loves us all.”
Maybe it’s because I have more time to stay in my head, but lately, I’ve been glaringly aware of my imperfections. Despite my best efforts, I’m not smart enough, not spiritual enough, not wise enough, not nice enough, not content enough, and so on and so on. When you get to that level of stinkin’ thinkin’ (as Joyce Meyer would say) it’s easy to get a ‘why bother’ mentality. No, I am not perfect, and will never be, but that doesn’t make God love me any less. It doesn’t make any of us less cherished by our Father in Heaven. In fact, just look at all of the crazy, flawed, renowned people in the Bible. Those folks had their quirks and flaws, but God loved and delivered them nonetheless.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I think about the many characters’ stories within the Bible, it’s hard not to look up to the people who did great things on behalf of God. Sometimes I forget their humanity and flaws, which is dangerous. That’s because, when you perceive the people in the Bible as perfect or better, we fail to see our similarities and how God can use us as He did them. Think about it, Abraham and Sarah lied about being brother and sister out of fear. David sent a man off to his death just so that he could spend a night with his wife. In spite of their quirks and flaws, we cannot deny the amazing things they did on behalf of Christ.
Obedience over Perfection
The people in the Bible weren’t enough, and yet what miraculous things. were achieved! I don’t acknowledge their flaws to minimize their accomplishments. I mention them to highlight the humanity of their lives. Folks, we’re dumb, prone to sin, lambs who desperately need our Shepherd. Instead of lamenting on the ‘enoughs’ of the world, we should be rejoicing that we aren’t enough, but we serve and are loved by the one who is. This changes the game of perfection to one of obedience. God calls us to obey, not to be perfect, He knows good and well of all the shortcomings and failures that come with a wild bunch of humans. Yet, His love is unfailing and infinite to every one of us. So the next time, you’re feeling the weight of your humanity, give that burden to God and flip open your Bible to see what crazy shenanigans the people before us were getting up to. There’s comfort in knowing the Truth
Are you embracing your quirks and flaws or are you pretending you’re perfect?
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1 This is what the LORD says: “I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Babylonia. 2 Foreigners will come and winnow her, blowing her away as chaff. They will come from every side to rise against her in her day of trouble. 3 Don’t let the archers put on their armor or draw their bows. Don’t spare even her best soldiers! Let her army be completely destroyed. 4 They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians, slashed to death in her streets. 5 For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has not abandoned Israel and Judah. He is still their God, even though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” 6 Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don’t get trapped in her punishment! It is the LORD ’s time for vengeance; he will repay her in full. 7 Babylon has been a gold cup in the LORD ’s hands, a cup that made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank Babylon’s wine, and it drove them all mad. 8 But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen. Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed. 9 We would have helped her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go; abandon her. Return now to your own land. For her punishment reaches to the heavens; it is so great it cannot be measured. 10 The LORD has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Jerusalem everything the LORD our God has done. 11 Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the LORD has inspired the kings of the Medes to march against Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance against those who desecrated his Temple. 12 Raise the battle flag against Babylon! Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen. Prepare an ambush, for the LORD will fulfill all his plans against Babylon. 13 You are a city by a great river, a great center of commerce, but your end has come. The thread of your life is cut. 14 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow and has sworn to it by his own name: “Your cities will be filled with enemies, like fields swarming with locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.” 15 The LORD made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. 16 When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. 17 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. 18 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. 19 But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! 20 “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the LORD . “With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. 21 With you I will shatter armies— destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. 22 With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and young women. 23 With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and officers. 24 “I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the LORD . 25 “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the LORD . “I will raise my fist against you, to knock you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble. 26 You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the LORD . 27 Raise a signal flag to the nations. Sound the battle cry! Mobilize them all against Babylon. Prepare them to fight against her! Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander, and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts! 28 Bring against her the armies of the nations— led by the kings of the Medes and all their captains and officers. 29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain, for everything the LORD has planned against Babylon stands unchanged. Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant. 30 Her mightiest warriors no longer fight. They stay in their barracks, their courage gone. They have become like women. The invaders have burned the houses and broken down the city gates. 31 The news is passed from one runner to the next as the messengers hurry to tell the king that his city has been captured. 32 All the escape routes are blocked. The marshes have been set aflame, and the army is in a panic. 33 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor, about to be trampled. In just a little while her harvest will begin.” 34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us and drained us of strength. He has swallowed us like a great monster and filled his belly with our riches. He has thrown us out of our own country. 35 Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,” say the people of Zion. “Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,” says Jerusalem. 36 This is what the LORD says to Jerusalem: “I will be your lawyer to plead your case, and I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, as well as her springs, 37 and Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt, a place where no one lives. 38 Her people will roar together like strong lions. They will growl like lion cubs. 39 And while they lie inflamed with all their wine, I will prepare a different kind of feast for them. I will make them drink until they fall asleep, and they will never wake up again,” says the LORD . 40 “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats to be sacrificed. 41 “How Babylon is fallen— great Babylon, praised throughout the earth! Now she has become an object of horror among the nations. 42 The sea has risen over Babylon; she is covered by its crashing waves. 43 Her cities now lie in ruins; she is a dry wasteland where no one lives or even passes by. 44 And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and make him vomit up all he has eaten. The nations will no longer come and worship him. The wall of Babylon has fallen! 45 “Come out, my people, flee from Babylon. Save yourselves! Run from the LORD ’s fierce anger. 46 But do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. 47 For the time is surely coming when I will punish this great city and all her idols. Her whole land will be disgraced, and her dead will lie in the streets. 48 Then the heavens and earth will rejoice, for out of the north will come destroying armies against Babylon,” says the LORD . 49 “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed. 50 Get out, all you who have escaped the sword! Do not stand and watch—flee while you can! Remember the LORD, though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem.” 51 “We are ashamed,” the people say. “We are insulted and disgraced because the LORD ’s Temple has been defiled by foreigners.” 52 “Yes,” says the LORD, “but the time is coming when I will destroy Babylon’s idols. The groans of her wounded people will be heard throughout the land. 53 Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens and makes her fortifications incredibly strong, I will still send enemies to plunder her. I, the LORD, have spoken! 54 “Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. 55 For the LORD is destroying Babylon. He will silence her loud voice. Waves of enemies pound against her; the noise of battle rings through the city. 56 Destroying armies come against Babylon. Her mighty men are captured, and their weapons break in their hands. For the LORD is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full. 57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her captains, officers, and warriors. They will fall asleep and never wake up again!” says the King, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 58 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground, and her massive gates will be burned. The builders from many lands have worked in vain, for their work will be destroyed by fire!” 59 The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. 60 Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. 62 Then say, ‘ LORD, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ 63 When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64 Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’” This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.
“Keep wise people around you because their hard-earned wisdom will serve you well.”
I chat with my dad often. Most of the time, it’s because he’s got a lot of cool information that I’ve been able to use both in my life and my business. While I may take some time to wrap my Texas-sized ego around his wise words, more often than not, after a moment or two (and quite possibly a nap) I concede that his answers are far better than my own. Every now and again, I manage to squeak out a wise word from my own experiences, but usually I’m the student, benefitting from 55 years of living. Listening to wise biblically based counsel is very important, as it helps you gain discernment that will see you through this life.
When you have daily conversations with God and godly people, your spiritual eyesight is sharp, able to cut through the superficial nonsense of this world. Because you set your sights on above, God Himself act as your guide to navigate the waters of a sin-fallen world. Even better, if He has given you a wise elder within your family, peer group, or what have you, you have the added benefit from learning through their experiences, mistakes, triumphs, and the like. As this world gets more flesh-driven, there are fake things that pretend to be good. If you’re not looking too closely, you will fall prey to the imitations set out to devour you. It’s easy to say that evil is deceptive and that we lack insight into the motives of others and the opposition. But, with sharp eyes, a Christ-centered mind, and wise counsel, you can persevere and sidestep the tomfoolery.
Are you staying sharp by knowing God and His people, or are the fake treasures of evil blinding your sight?
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1 Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the LORD your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the LORD your God will show us what to do and where to go.” 4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the LORD your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the LORD our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” 7 Ten days later the LORD gave his reply to Jeremiah. 8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the LORD, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the LORD . ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’ 13 “But if you refuse to obey the LORD your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the LORD ’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’ 18 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’ 19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The LORD has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the LORD your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the LORD our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the LORD your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”
“At some point, you have to let go of the opinions of man and be who God made you to be.”
There is a price to pay for walking the path of Christ. As people on this earth, we must choose our path– God or Evil. While that may seem hyperbolic, when you look at it for what it truly is, it makes your choices quite simple. Note that simple does not mean easy. Good cannot walk with evil and as such, the walk with God will filter out a lot of people, distractions, and the like. Fortunately, God will find ways to keep you busy. But, make no mistake, there is a secular loss. You will look weird. People will look down on you, all the while trying to exploit your honest efforts. Your best intentions will fall on deaf ears as their hearts and minds are hardened. Sometimes, it can be hard, challenging, and hurtful. But friends, the price you pay in the natural is eclipsed by the magnitude of calling Jesus your savior.
Be all in with God and He will show you amazing things! When you operate according to the One who made you, you find it much easier to be yourself– no assembly necessary. There will be hardship, trials, and tribulations, but make no mistake, you were built to endure. Take Jeremiah for example. That dude had quite the task! He had to go to some of the most wicked folks in his time to tell them some very unpopular things! And, for his trouble, he was beaten, jailed, mocked, and other unpleasant things. But, as we are reading, what he said came to pass, and God took care of him! So I say all of this to say, we could all take a page out of Jeremiah’s book. Let’s be who God created us to be, discomfort and all.
Are you being who God made you to be or is the favor of a wayward nation more important to you?
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1 The LORD gave a message to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the other captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being sent to exile in Babylon. 2 The captain of the guard called for Jeremiah and said, “The LORD your God has brought this disaster on this land, 3 just as he said he would. For these people have sinned against the LORD and disobeyed him. That is why it happened. 4 But I am going to take off your chains and let you go. If you want to come with me to Babylon, you are welcome. I will see that you are well cared for. But if you don’t want to come, you may stay here. The whole land is before you—go wherever you like. 5 If you decide to stay, then return to Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan. He has been appointed governor of Judah by the king of Babylon. Stay there with the people he rules. But it’s up to you; go wherever you like.” Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, gave Jeremiah some food and money and let him go. 6 So Jeremiah returned to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah, and he lived in Judah with the few who were still left in the land. 7 The leaders of the Judean guerrilla bands in the countryside heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor over the poor people who were left behind in Judah—the men, women, and children who hadn’t been exiled to Babylon. 8 So they went to see Gedaliah at Mizpah. These included: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah son of the Maacathite, and all their men. 9 Gedaliah vowed to them that the Babylonians meant them no harm. “Don’t be afraid to serve them. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well for you,” he promised. 10 “As for me, I will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to meet with us. Settle in the towns you have taken, and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives, and store them away.” 11 When the Judeans in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the other nearby countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few people in Judah and that Gedaliah was the governor, 12 they began to return to Judah from the places to which they had fled. They stopped at Mizpah to meet with Gedaliah and then went into the Judean countryside to gather a great harvest of grapes and other crops. 13 Soon after this, Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They said to him, “Did you know that Baalis, king of Ammon, has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to assassinate you?” But Gedaliah refused to believe them. 15 Later Johanan had a private conference with Gedaliah and volunteered to kill Ishmael secretly. “Why should we let him come and murder you?” Johanan asked. “What will happen then to the Judeans who have returned? Why should the few of us who are still left be scattered and lost?” 16 But Gedaliah said to Johanan, “I forbid you to do any such thing, for you are lying about Ishmael.”
“Prioritize your relationship with God and His wisdom will organize your life.”
I’m going to come right out and say it, for me, organization, lists, schedules, etc. are not my cup of tea. I’m firmly rooted in the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ camp. That said, in the nature of my work, I’ve begun to realize that without some organization, or prioritization, I cannot be successful in all of the endeavors in my life. I’ve slowly but surely started adopting more rules and schedules within my life (I can feel my mother smiling at the thought of rules, ha). Funnily enough, I would not have made that connection by listening to the gently and careful advice of God.
Spending time with God each day is like getting master tips on organization for your mind, body, and spirit. In that quiet place where you sit, speak, and listen, He will share with you the ultimate organizational tips specific for the growth and change for your life. As we all learn to mirror Christ and leave our fleshly comforts, ideas, and harebrained schemes behind, the path becomes clearer and more manageable to navigate. Make no mistake that it does become narrower which is why it seems less traveled than the roads of your past. But, if you make that relational time with God a priority, He will help you organize the rest.
Are you prioritizing the Organizational Tools of Christ or is following the disorganized destruction of the world your preferred path?
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1 In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his entire army to besiege Jerusalem. 2 Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. 3 All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon. 4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. 5 But the Babylonian troops chased them and overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 6 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon. 8 Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they tore down the walls of the city. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had defected to him, and everyone else who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in the land of Judah, and he assigned them to care for the vineyards and fields. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king 14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people. 15 The LORD had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”
“When guilt rears its ugly head, gratitude is the best strategy to defeat it.”~TB
The Shame Game
I have an annoying tendency to downplay my talents and strengths while drilling down on my areas of improvement. More interesting, I know a lot of people who do that too, which makes me wonder why? I could be “killing it” in different areas of my life, but if I’m not paying attention, my inner video of “greatest shame hits” plays, attempting to eclipse the victories that have occurred. When we lean into those shameful periods and feelings, we fall trap into negative cyclical thinking that ultimately steers us back to the very behaviors we’d like to avoid. An untethered mind is a dangerous place. We all have different inner voices, ideas, and thoughts that can uplift or deter us, which is why it’s so important to know who and what you’re listening to.
Attitude of Gratitude
So instead of focusing on your past transgressions (we all have them) look at the gifts and grace that God provides you with gratitude. We’ve all been spared the wrath that we each justly deserve and there are so many minor miracles that we all tend to forget about, but they occur each and every day. If you find yourself in a new position, be grateful and reflect on the situations you’ve experienced that prepare you for this new road. The opposition deceives you when you believe that being down and out is the only way of life. Gratitude defeats the nefarious schemes of shame and the opposition. It allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. God’s Will is mighty and wondrous, but it is up to us to individually and consistently put down our cup of shame and pick up the peace of gratitude.
Are you listening to the lies of shame or embracing God’s mercy with gratitude?
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1This is the message the LORD gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah:
2“Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the LORD ’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.”
3So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families.
4I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper.
5I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink,
6but they refused. “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine.
7And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’
8So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters.
9We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops.
10We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.
11But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.”
12Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me.
14The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me.
15Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me.
16The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’”
18Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’
19Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’”
“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.’”