“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.’”
“Resources are meant to be used to grow with Christ, not to replace Him.”~TB
A major balancing act in the Christian walk is utilizing and appreciating the resources that God gives us without allowing them to take on a god-like persona. If we’re honest, I’m sure we all have had moments where we want God’s ‘stuff’ more than we want Him. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a tough pill to swallow because the truth of the matter, money, cars, fame, notoriety are really just stuff. More to the point, wanting stuff more than we want God is quite sad and a major indictment on what we value as a collective. As someone who has experience with first-world niceties, I can say for certain, the best manmade things do not hold a candle to being in the presence of the Lord.
Remain in Him
These days, everything I have is a resource to remain in Christ. My money, time, love, etc. are poured into building my relationships with my family, spending time with God, sharing His Truth with others, and things of the like. That’s not to say I’m perfect, oh, I’m far from it. Over time, I’ve come to learn to hang out with God more, glean His insights, which helps me to make better decisions. He has shown and taught me how wonderful it is to walk with Him and the resources He gives me are to grow stronger in Him. Friends, we have to evaluate how we look at things. Most of the time, we want ‘stuff’ just to impress others. The things of this world are temporary. We cannot take them with us when we go. But, the relationship we forge with Christ is everlasting, so enjoy the resources, but make sure they point back to Him.
Do you want God’s resources or God Himself?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him,
2‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too.
3This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!
4If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects.
5But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the LORD, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”
6Now this is what the LORD says concerning Judah’s royal palace: “I love you as much as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will turn you into a desert, with no one living within your walls.
7I will call for wreckers, who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.
8“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the LORD destroy such a great city?’
9And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the LORD their God by worshiping other gods.’”
10Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.
11For this is what the LORD says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return.
12He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”
13And the LORD says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.
14He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.’
15But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.
16He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the LORD .
17“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah: “The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19He will be buried like a dead donkey— dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you.
21I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’ You have been that way since childhood— you simply will not obey me!
22And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish— anguish like that of a woman in labor.
24“As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off.
25I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army.
26I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land.
27You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28“Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar? Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the LORD !
30This is what the LORD says: ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless. He is a failure, for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’
“Let your brothers and sisters endure their trials as they are a necessary byproduct of growing in Christ.”~TB
I love my family with great fierceness– for better or worse. It’s a joy to see them do well and it’s heartbreaking when they suffer– especially to false accusations. I’ve been known to jump on land mines for the people I love. Though my intentions are well-meaning, every single one of us has to go through the fire at some point and blocking someone else’s spiritual assignment –good-intentioned or otherwise– benefits no one.
Growth Through Struggle
Having experience with unfair persecution, I can say that those uncomfortable times did way more good than harm. Through the muck and the mess, I learned that I had to rely on God because He was with me in the fiery storms. When I look back at those radical moments, I realize that though the experiences were unpleasant, never was I harmed. So, if God walks with me, I’d be a fool to not trust that He’s walking with all of you as well. More to the point, when those we love endure suffering for what is right, we should be pleased that they too get the opportunity to grow in Christ.
It’s All Joy
These days I am more mindful about the Hand of Christ and I am present and careful to watch Him at work. I pray for His Will to be done rather than jump the gun with my hair-brained schemes. Instead of interfering, I encourage and listen. Friends that is all we can do, because the heavy lifting is God’s plan. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather that my brothers and sisters have God’s help than mine, because well, it’s should be obvious, ha! So the next time you see those in your life go through hard times, remember how your struggles brought you closer to God and that they too are given the opportunity and honor to know God in that same way.
Are you letting your interfering ways block the spiritual growth of others?
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1Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the LORD, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying.
2So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the LORD ’s Temple.
3The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the LORD has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’
4For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword.
5And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon.
6As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”
7O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me.
8When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke.
9But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!
10I have heard the many rumors about me. They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.” They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.” Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip. “He will trap himself,” they say, “and then we will get our revenge on him.”
11But the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
13Sing to the LORD ! Praise the LORD ! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.
14Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news—you have a son!”
16Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the LORD overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave!
18Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
“Imagine how peaceful we could be if we just did the work.”~TB
Admittedly, I am the consummate procrastinator. As a creative individual, part of my ‘secret sauce’ is the adrenaline of the last-minute deadline that shoots my imaginative process into high gear. I’ve had incredible success with this model. I’ve also had incredible failures too. More to the point, when you procrastinate in all areas of your life, you’re playing with unnecessary fire. As they say, live by the sword, die by the sword.
If you procrastinate long enough or if you’re prone to not doing legitimate work of any kind, you will experience a lot of loss or missed opportunities. One of the not so great things about these experiences is that if you have many that result in a similar ending, you begin to falsely perceive a feedback loop of failure. Even worse, without realizing it, many of us act out this feedback loop subconsciously, resulting in anxiety and a doomsday outlook on certain aspects of life or just life in general.
Our brains work to form correlations so that we can come to certain conclusions more quickly based on past experiences. It’s a survival mechanism. The problem is if you’re falsely wired the incorrect information, it makes getting the correct information more difficult, but, not impossible. Many of us tend to discredit what God does in our lives because He’s not physically present turning water into wine right before us. But, imagine if you quieted the noise, looked within and forged that relationship. You’d see God in a more honest and relational way but in order to get to that place, you have to drop the preconceived notions and behaviors and do the work.
Where would your relationship with God be if you worked as hard as you procrastinated?
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1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Do not get married or have children in this place.
3For this is what the LORD says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers:
4They will die from terrible diseases. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy.
6Both the great and the lowly will die in this land. No one will bury them or mourn for them. Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness.
7No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
8“And do not go to their feasts and parties. Do not eat and drink with them at all.
9For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.
10“When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the LORD decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the LORD our God?’
11“Then you will give them the LORD ’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word.
12And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.
13So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’
14“But the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
15Instead, 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.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.
16“But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the LORD . “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves.
17I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me.
18I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defiled my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.”
19LORD, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! Nations from around the world will come to you and say, “Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage, for they worshiped worthless idols.
20Can people make their own gods? These are not real gods at all!”
21The LORD says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might. At last they will know and understand that I am the LORD .
Have you ever noticed that many people shoot for the minimum or enough to get by? It’s interesting how we as a society have conditioned ourselves to accept mediocrity, corruption, and the like as if bondage and enslavement are normal living conditions. We are more prone to believe in the negative things and scoff at the amazing possibilities . and potential that comes with following Christ. Self-sabotage is a behavior that keeps us from actualizing the promises that God gives to each and every one of us. In short, when we participate in these defeating practices, we’re giving the devil much unnecessary help that we could be using ourselves to answer the call of Christ.
Friends do not be scared, intimated, or in denial of the great dreams and potential that God has stored in each and every one of you. He has done a great work in all of us. The worst thing we can do is to trade a miraculous truth for comfortable lies. Yes, God’s plan requires faith, work, and humility, but the pay off is so much more satisfying and everlasting than not working to your potential. Look to God as the ultimate ally and guide for your life. When you read the Bible and see all of the people and works documented, the extraordinary seems more possible, because all things are possible through Him! Don’t do the enemy any favors by beating yourself up and living in condemnation. Instead, till the soil and see what it is that God has tasked you to do. It will be a life well-lived and full of adventure, no doubt.
Who are you working for; God of the devil?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.”
2So I bought the loincloth as the LORD directed me, and I put it on.
3Then the LORD gave me another message:
4“Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.”
5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the LORD had instructed me.
6A long time afterward the LORD said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.”
7So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.
8Then I received this message from the LORD :
9“This is what the LORD says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.
10These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth—good for nothing!
11As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the LORD . They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.
12“So tell them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: May all your jars be filled with wine.’ And they will reply, ‘Of course! Jars are made to be filled with wine!’
13“Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the LORD means: I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness—from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem.
14I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the LORD . I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.’”
15Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.
16Give glory to the LORD your God before it is too late. Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains. For then, when you look for light, you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.
17And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the LORD ’s flock will be led away into exile.
18Say to the king and his mother, “Come down from your thrones and sit in the dust, for your glorious crowns will soon be snatched from your heads.”
19The towns of the Negev will close their gates, and no one will be able to open them. The people of Judah will be taken away as captives. All will be carried into exile.
20Open up your eyes and see the armies marching down from the north! Where is your flock— your beautiful flock— that he gave you to care for?
21What will you say when the LORD takes the allies you have cultivated and appoints them as your rulers? Pangs of anguish will grip you, like those of a woman in labor!
22You may ask yourself, “Why is all this happening to me?” It is because of your many sins! That is why you have been stripped and raped by invading armies.
23Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.
24“I will scatter you like chaff that is blown away by the desert winds.
25This is your allotment, the portion I have assigned to you,” says the LORD, “for you have forgotten me, putting your trust in false gods.
26I myself will strip you and expose you to shame.
27I have seen your adultery and lust, and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills. What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem! How long before you are pure?”
“When you forgive others as God forgives you, you are essentially giving each other a rebrand, cleaning the slate as God does for all of His Kids.”~TB
A dog shows its belly– the most vulnerable part of its body– to those it trusts. But if said trusted individual kicks the dog in the belly, that dog will be sure not to show weakness to that person again. We as people tend to have that mindset when dealing with each other. Forgiveness is difficult because at the root of it exists pain and mistrust. Our thought process is: “how can I trust that person if they’ve hurt me?”. And to be completely honest, it’s tough. While I try to quickly forgive and turn the other cheek, I too have to reconcile the pain and mistrust that happens when those close to us let us down in one way or the other. That’s where God steps in– if you ask and allow Him to.
Give It Up
The pain and sorrow of transgressions are not for us to hold on to. In fact, we are supposed to give those things to God, because we lack the ability to process those things in a Christ-like manner on our own. When you give the transgressions and burdens to our Father in Heaven, He makes a way in us to love and extend forgiveness to our brothers and sisters. This is because He forgives us so freely and willingly each and every time, when you experience that kind of mercy, it becomes easier to share it with those around you. More to the point, when you practice honest, Biblical, forgiveness, not only do you allow the transgressor the ability to change, but so do you.
Have you ever been looked at as the person you once were rather than the person you are? It’s not fun carrying an outdated interpretation of your past, no matter how far you’ve come to make amends. It’s tough to change and grow when we all hold each other to the less than stellar moments in our lives. Trust me, we all have those moments. But to keep each other in those chains, it stagnates growth and community. That’s what happens when we do not forgive each other. Instead, give people space and grace to grow and be who God made them to be. By wiping the slate clean the act of forgiveness is a mutual endeavor that gives not only the parties involved the chance to start again, but those who are watching can accurately see that person as they truly are too. I’ve seen firsthand what a rebranded person looks and behaves like when given the opportunity. I hope that we all can tap into the Holy Spirit to grant each other that chance to rebrand and change too,
Are you giving space and grace to allow your brothers and sisters to rebrand; or are you stagnating the healing process?
Enjoy the reading
1If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.
2Oh, that I could go away and forget my people and live in a travelers’ shack in the desert. For they are all adulterers— a pack of treacherous liars.
3“My people bend their tongues like bows to shoot out lies. They refuse to stand up for the truth. They only go from bad to worse. They do not know me,” says the LORD .
4“Beware of your neighbor! Don’t even trust your brother! For brother takes advantage of brother, and friend slanders friend.
5They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
6They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,” says the LORD .
7Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “See, I will melt them down in a crucible and test them like metal. What else can I do with my people?
8For their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.
9Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?”
10I will weep for the mountains and wail for the wilderness pastures. For they are desolate and empty of life; the lowing of cattle is heard no more; the birds and wild animals have all fled.
11“I will make Jerusalem into a heap of ruins,” says the LORD . “It will be a place haunted by jackals. The towns of Judah will be ghost towns, with no one living in them.”
12Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the LORD and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?
13The LORD replies, “This has happened because my people have abandoned my instructions; they have refused to obey what I said.
14Instead, they have stubbornly followed their own desires and worshiped the images of Baal, as their ancestors taught them.
15So now, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Look! I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink.
16I will scatter them around the world, in places they and their ancestors never heard of, and even there I will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.”
17This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Consider all this, and call for the mourners. Send for the women who mourn at funerals.
18Quick! Begin your weeping! Let the tears flow from your eyes.
19Hear the people of Jerusalem crying in despair, ‘We are ruined! We are completely humiliated! We must leave our land, because our homes have been torn down.’”
20Listen, you women, to the words of the LORD ; open your ears to what he has to say. Teach your daughters to wail; teach one another how to lament.
21For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.
22This is what the LORD says: “Bodies will be scattered across the fields like clumps of manure, like bundles of grain after the harvest. No one will be left to bury them.”
23This is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.
24But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!
25“A time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—
26the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”
“Do not avoid uncomfortable situations or moments. Instead, walk boldly in the truth that God is with you in all things.”~TB
The world teaches us to avoid unpleasant experiences. Human logic dictates that if the moment induces discomfort, it must be a bad thing, therefore we remove the “yucky stuff” from our lives. What an amazingly ironic and counterproductive paradigm! The problem with that ideology is that it eliminates the most vital and necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. Through the unpleasant times, we get to grow closer and know God in a more personal and one-on-one manner. In fact, it’s those uncomfortable and painful moments where we grow the most. That is if we take them as they are and not as we perceive them to be.
When I was a kid in elementary school, we’d have the opportunity to participate in an art class. Some of the projects included working with clay, making different sorts of things. I loved it. Being able to mold and shape things– essentially making something out of nothing– is something I love. My favorite part was seeing my work after it was fired in the kiln. For those that don’t know, a kiln is a heating chamber that transforms materials in high temperatures. When the clay is heated properly, it is then ready to be turned into a vessel. If you’ve ever worked clay, you’ve seen firsthand how a slippery and malleable substance is transformed into a sturdy and utilitarian product. God is the Kiln to our clay.
In order to be the vessel that God has called you to be, you must learn to reexamine your mind about the kiln process. Trials and tribulations are the firey elements that shore up your vessel. Without them, you remain mushy and unsustainable. When you avoid the molding and kiln of God, your ability to rise to the calling on your life is impossible. Don’t avoid the process, but trust that all things in your life are used to strengthen your relationship with God. Let the Bible mold you and your time with God be the fire that hardens the clay. In doing so, we see as God intended us to see. When that happens, we walk in the way that God called us to.
Are you going through the kiln or do you want to remain mushy and broken?
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1“In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem.
2They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure.
3And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
4“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around.
6I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD ’s laws.
8“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD . Are they so wise after all?
10I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds.
11They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
12Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD .
13I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone. I, the LORD, have spoken!’
14“Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the LORD our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the LORD .
15We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16“The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it— cities and people alike.
17I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
18My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken.
19Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem? ” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?” “Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” says the LORD .
20“The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!”
21I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?
“Start your day with Him to put your best foot forward.”~TB
In the Beginning
Give God the first fruits of your day so that you can download the vital information. This way you can have the resources to attack your daily grind with the best information out there; from God. When you take that time in the morning, you find the best way to go about your daily responsibilities because you understand that you’re not working for man, but for God Himself.
At the End
When you give your daily first fruits, your day is spent and your sleep is earned because you obeyed our Father in Heaven. We tend to stay out of trouble and harms way because we followed our path, minimizing the human propensities of looking at other people’s paths. God gives us ample instructions and assignments to ensure that we are successful. To be connected to your purpose, be consistent in your first fruits.
Are you giving your first fruits or your first excuses in the morning?
Enjoy the reading
1“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the LORD . “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city.
2But even when they are under oath, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ they are still telling lies!”
3LORD, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.
4Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the LORD . They don’t understand God’s laws.
5So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the LORD and understand God’s laws.” But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains.
6So now a lion from the forest will attack them; a wolf from the desert will pounce on them. A leopard will lurk near their towns, tearing apart any who dare to venture out. For their rebellion is great, and their sins are many.
7“How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels.
8They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
9Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
10“Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines, leaving a scattered few alive. Strip the branches from the vines, for these people do not belong to the LORD .
11The people of Israel and Judah are full of treachery against me,” says the LORD .
12“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine.
13God’s prophets are all windbags who don’t really speak for him. Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”
14Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies says: “Because the people are talking like this, my messages will flame out of your mouth and burn the people like kindling wood.
15O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,” says the LORD . “It is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you cannot understand.
16Their weapons are deadly; their warriors are mighty.
17They will devour the food of your harvest; they will devour your sons and daughters. They will devour your flocks and herds; they will devour your grapes and figs. And they will destroy your fortified towns, which you think are so safe.
18“Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the LORD .
19“And when your people ask, ‘Why did the LORD our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’
20“Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah:
21Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.
22Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me.
24They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
26“Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They continually set traps to catch people.
27Like a cage filled with birds, their homes are filled with evil plots. And now they are great and rich.
28They are fat and sleek, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor.
29Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
30A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land—
31the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?
“Don’t try and change God’s message with your dynamic thoughts, speeches, wardrobe, homes, facilities, talent, and stuff. Simply state His Words of Truth, justice, mercy, and love with your actions and honest intentions.” ~ Jon Barnes
God is always trying to tell us what to do, but we play dumb, deaf, and ignorant to the facts, knowledge, and wisdom that is given to us. We lie to ourselves so that we can lie to God, by shutting down all of our spiritual and natural senses of justice, fairness, honor, and love. Our fake love is like fake news that spreads fearlessly throughout our heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit. Being fearlessly stupid is not the dynamic goal God has intended for you. Clean up your mess and keep God’s message clear and clean in your heart so that you use pure love from God with your spouse, family, friends, and enemies.
Technology is just a tool, like stuff, and money. You must not replace God’s ole’ fashioned love, stories, wisdom, and power with your own industrious insight of arrogance and pride. Left unto ourselves, we all can paint a perfect picture of what we think is cool or good in our own minds, but God knows your heart and all of the problems you have not corrected with HIM. I cannot fix your heart, but God will if you open up to listen to His Spirit more clearly. Become more industrious in your commitment to your God and family to become a better friend to others.
There is no doubt that our love for each other will help prove to others in this world that the love of God is in our hearts because we can honestly communicate our feeling and actions of faith properly at home, church, work, and among ourselves. By lifting each other up, washing each other’s feet, and scratching each other’s backs, you can feel the love that reciprocates God’s true intentions in your lifestyle choices. Your good works of faith can never be erased when you finish the daily race.
If you are a man who does not take care of your children, how do you expect to go to heaven and should God, Your Father, treat you like you did your children?
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Epilogue: Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?”21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.
25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.