“Like it or not, our lives are a testament to the power of God.”~TB
Long Story Short
Whether you follow Christ or not, our stories are the collective of what God built in this universe. As the creator, He breathed life into existence, carving out the episodic adventures we each call life. For those who humbly and honestly seek Him, your lives are a testament to His mighty righteousness and grace. For those that don’t, they are the testament of lessons to be learned from those narratives.
Stories of Old
Though we cannot see Him, if we look at the patterns of the righteous and wicked, there are undeniable correlations stemming all the way back from Adam and Eve. The thoughts and the deeds of the righteous are identifiable and consistent. The thoughts and the deeds of the wicked are just as identifiable and consistent. Human error befalls us all which is why repentance and turning from our sinful nature is a must. We all would do well to read the Word, learn from our ancestors and glean the examples from our parents to see God’s handiwork at work.
Which testament are you; righteous or wicked?
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1The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.
2Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace.
3King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it.
4King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face.
5He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the LORD . ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’”
6At that time the LORD sent me a message. He said,
7“Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’”
8Then, just as the LORD had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the LORD .
9So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces of silver for it.
10I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him.
11Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase,
12and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
13Then I said to Baruch as they all listened,
14“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’
15For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.’”
16Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the LORD :
17“O Sovereign LORD ! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
18You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
19You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve.
20You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.
21“You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror.
22You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey.
23Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24“See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said.
25And yet, O Sovereign LORD, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”
26Then this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
27“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?
28Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it.
29The Babylonians outside the walls will come in and set fire to the city. They will burn down all these houses where the people provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods.
30Israel and Judah have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds,” says the LORD .
31“From the time this city was built until now, it has done nothing but anger me, so I am determined to get rid of it.
32“The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger.
33My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey.
34They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it.
35They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!
36“Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
37I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.
38They will be my people, and I will be their God.
39And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.
40And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.
41I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
42“This is what the LORD says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.
43Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’
44Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“The enemy will always attack you in your weakest area. The beauty of this is that you know his strategy.”~TB
The devil’s job is to get you off task, off focus, and offline so that you reject the truth and do his bidding. As such, his sneaky underhanded tactics are visceral, jarring, and strategic. He will use any deceptive practice that is the most effective in getting you to stumble. Now, this may seem discouraging. Your weaknesses and footholds will always be where he’ll hit you the hardest. It’s not his job to make your walk with Christ easy, in fact, it’s the total opposite. While you may experience attacks, setbacks, and discouragement, the devil’s unfair play makes it easy to recognize his strategy. Further, if the devil is messing with you so intensely, know it’s because you’re disrupting his plans for discord and destruction. He’ll never go after the lukewarm, so stand firm in Christ and keep moving.
Knowing how the opposition will attack you is like having his playbook to prepare against his moves. Take stock of your weaknesses, vices, and footholds. Knowing your greatest areas of opportunity is the first step in discerning how the opposition is going to attack you. When you experience opposition of any kind, take a step back, calm your feelings, and observe what is going on around you. Remember who made you and that He is available to help you always. Ask God for help in revealing the playing field and the best plan of action to rise above the opposition’s nonsense. Know that the evil one cannot take your salvation and standing with Christ. The best plan of attack is to acknowledge your weak points, ask God for help, and do the work in improving your walk with Christ. Remember, in times of trouble, double down in your faith and not your own understanding. Though you may stumble, God will not let you fall.
Are you using the playbook or are you falling prey to the oppositions dirty tactics?
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1These are more proverbs of Solomon, collected by the advisers of King Hezekiah of Judah.
2It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.
3No one can comprehend the height of heaven, the depth of the earth, or all that goes on in the king’s mind!
4Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.
5Remove the wicked from the king’s court, and his reign will be made secure by justice.
6Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great.
7It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace. Just because you’ve seen something,
8don’t be in a hurry to go to court. For what will you do in the end if your neighbor deals you a shameful defeat?
9When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret.
10Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.
11Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.
12To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.
13Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.
14A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.
15Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.
16Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!
17Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.
18Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.
19Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.
20Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.
21If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.
22You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the LORD will reward you.
23As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!
24It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
25Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty.
26If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
27It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.
28A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
“Accept the solutions that God provides, rather than relying solely on your own.”~TB
What Should Be
As the body of Christ, we are all interconnected. This means that God desires for us to do our part, helping one another. When you read the Bible regularly, you understand its principles and how each of us has a role in assisting our brothers and sisters. In a perfect world, we would all step up and assist willingly. But, since the world is not perfect, we tend to thwart and disrupt God’s plan, leaving our brothers and sisters hanging. Fortunately for us, God has an infinite supply of backup plans and will send resources to those in need. Friends, accept those solutions, no matter if they don’t fit with your own ideas.
When manmade solutions fail, as they often do, rely on the solutions of our Father in Heaven. Like Jonah and the Gourd, God most likely sends provisions and resources that to the human eye seem unlikely and absurd. Further, sometimes those solutions require you to be humble, swallow your pride, and accept the help offered by others. Friends, don’t be prideful and refuse help because you don’t want to appear weak. Truth is, we are all weak, so stop pretending! Instead, be glad that God loves you enough to send help in your time of need. Don’t forget, there are lessons to be learned in moments such as these. More to the point, this is an opportunity for the giver to receive a blessing as they are blessing you. So take joy in receiving heavenly solutions rather than staring at the manmade problem.
Are you holding onto your problems instead of accepting God’s solutions?
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1Praise the LORD ! Let all that I am praise the LORD .
2I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
3Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.
4When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.
5But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.
7He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners.
8The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are weighed down. The LORD loves the godly.
9The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
10The LORD will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the LORD !
“In order for God to use you, you must be tried, tested, and made approved through Holy conditioning.”~TB
Spiritually Out of Shape
God cannot use the spiritually weak. When you don’t pursue a relationship with Christ and when you don’t do your Biblical reading, you are spiritually unhealthy. As babes in Christ, you may aspire to share the Good News, however, without doing the work, you are unable to exert the endurance, steadfastness, and long-suffering required to work for God. Your spiritual arteries are clogged by the fat of your sins and unrefined impure thinking. God cannot use someone who is spiritually fat. You are not capable of running a race because you will fall prey to the fleshly desires of this world. There is still hope for anyone willing to endure the Biblical training required.
If you seek an honest relationship with the Lord and you desire to do well for the Kingdom, you must gird up your loins, and do the Biblical training that is necessary for you to successfully run and complete your race. Make no mistake, this is no easy feat as you will be tried and tested and ultimately broken. But through this pruning, God will pour a new Holy foundation for you to begin to understand how to move and operate in His will. Friends, celebrate in your trials and tests because it means that God is looking to pass the baton to you. Train well and watch His wisdom, strengthen you.
Ready to Run
You will know when God is ready to elevate your assignment because temptation, stress, and anguish no longer bother you. Those things are still there, but you understand that they are the evil banana peels that the devil has laid before you. Avoid them. You willingly put down your sinful ways and you excitedly and wholeheartedly seek the Lord with all of your heart. Friends, when this happens, it is a wonderful feeling to live and breathe the joy and peace that God provides as you begin to run the race that he is set before you. Make no mistake, picking up the cross every day is an intentional and willful endeavor. You cannot be lackadaisical or passive about your assignment. But fortunately, through God’s strength and conditioning through the Word, the trials, and the tests, He has prepared you for your destiny.
Are you ready to go through spiritual conditioning, or are you okay with being spiritually fat?
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1The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
2Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past.
3The floods have risen up, O LORD . The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves.
4But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the LORD above is mightier than these!
5Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever.
“Take the good that is in front of you and make it better to grow what you have learned in life and from God.” ~ Jon Barnes
When you take the simplistic front view of what God is showing you in life, copy and step forward in your life.Reading and understanding the scriptures will teach you how to avoid the lies people will place in your path.It is all in front of you and each day we all must choose the right direction and instructions to complete our daily tasks.
Moving forward takes courage, strength, and discipline to leave the bad habits behind to continue to walk and seek out the good habits.Notice the things that are wrong and change your views and ways. When you share these positive views, the people around you will improve, because they see how much you are improving.
Only focus on your improvements and continue to correct your mistakes.You cannot focus on and fix the problems of other people.We can show people better solutions based on what we are doing, sharing, giving, and how we love.People must take the good that is in front of them and sow it into the lives of others, just as God has done for all of us.
Are you waiting around for someone else to do your good works?
2 Kings 23
Josiah’s Religious Reforms
23 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.2 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple.3 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
4 Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel.5 He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens.6 The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people.7 He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the Lord, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole.
8 Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city.9 The priests who had served at the pagan shrines were not allowed to serve at[a] the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat unleavened bread with the other priests.
10 Then the king defiled the altar of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, so no one could ever again use it to sacrifice a son or daughter in the fire[b] as an offering to Molech.11 He removed from the entrance of the Lord’s Temple the horse statues that the former kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were near the quarters of Nathan-melech the eunuch, an officer of the court.[c] The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
12 Josiah tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the upper room of Ahaz. The king destroyed the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. He smashed them to bits[d] and scattered the pieces in the Kidron Valley.13 The king also desecrated the pagan shrines east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Corruption, where King Solomon of Israel had built shrines for Ashtoreth, the detestable goddess of the Sidonians; and for Chemosh, the detestable god of the Moabites; and for Molech,[e] the vile god of the Ammonites.14 He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. Then he desecrated these places by scattering human bones over them.
15 The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole.16 Then Josiah turned around and noticed several tombs in the side of the hill. He ordered that the bones be brought out, and he burned them on the altar at Bethel to desecrate it. (This happened just as the Lord had promised through the man of God when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the festival.)
Then Josiah turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God[f] who had predicted these things.17 “What is that monument over there?” Josiah asked.
And the people of the town told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted the very things that you have just done to the altar at Bethel!”
18 Josiah replied, “Leave it alone. Don’t disturb his bones.” So they did not burn his bones or those of the old prophet from Samaria.
19 Then Josiah demolished all the buildings at the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria, just as he had done at Bethel. They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the Lord[g] very angry.20 He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
Josiah Celebrates Passover
21 King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.”22 There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah.23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols,[h] and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple.25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lordwith all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.
26 Even so, the Lord was very angry with Judah because of all the wicked things Manasseh had done to provoke him.27 For the Lord said, “I will also banish Judah from my presence just as I have banished Israel. And I will reject my chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple where my name was to be honored.”
28 The rest of the events in Josiah’s reign and all his deeds are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah.
29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, went to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah and his army marched out to fight him,[i] but King Neco[j] killed him when they met at Megiddo.30 Josiah’s officers took his body back in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. Then the people of the land anointed Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him the next king.
Jehoahaz Rules in Judah
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah.32 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.
33 Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath to prevent him from ruling[k] in Jerusalem. He also demanded that Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold[l] as tribute.
Jehoiakim Rules in Judah
34 Pharaoh Neco then installed Eliakim, another of Josiah’s sons, to reign in place of his father, and he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt as a prisoner, where he died.
35 In order to get the silver and gold demanded as tribute by Pharaoh Neco, Jehoiakim collected a tax from the people of Judah, requiring them to pay in proportion to their wealth.
36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah.37 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.
“Your solution becomes diluted when you choose not to follow the directions, path, process, and progression of orders that are given to you by God!” ~ Jon Barnes
The effectiveness of your good work is weakened and eventually becomes no good, based on your laziness, stubborn pride, and arrogance to listen to the common sense of God’s plan. Your plan is the only thing that becomes important because your foolish ideas dilute the ways of God. When you understand that your ways are not God’s ways, you will begin to see the train tracks of God’s wisdom and you will learn to follow His understanding, only.
Finding your focus and attaching your strength and efforts to God’s big picture will prevent you from following the dreams of a fool. God’s thoughts on your life will become a reality because you lined up your heart, mind, body, and soul to the type of good work you should be doing. Being obedient to God is not always what you love or want to do in life, at first.But once you obey God’s commandments, calibrate your heart, body, and mind, your lifestyle will show the fruit of your labor and the sweetness will not be bitterly diluted.
The strength in your steps comes from your focus in learning, knowing, understanding, and practicing the wisdom from the lessons of biblical principles within your daily walk, talk, play, and work.When you are having a hard time with something, there is a small biblical part of the story that you forgot to apply in your procedures in life and it diluted or prevented your success. If it goes undetected, your disobedience and sin will derail your fate and undermine your eternal destination!
Are you sticking to God’s message, lessons, and plans by constantly reading about it to stay focused and on track?
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Towns for the Levites
21 Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel2 at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.”3 So, as the Lord had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance:
4 The first lot came out for the Kohathites, according to their clans. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin.5 The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.
6 The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
7 The descendants of Merari, according to their clans, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.
8 So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.
9 From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name10 (these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them):
11 They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.)12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
13 So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refugefor one accused of murder), Libnah,14 Jattir, Eshtemoa,15 Holon, Debir,16 Ain,Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands—nine towns from these two tribes.
17 And from the tribe of Benjamin they gave them Gibeon, Geba,18 Anathothand Almon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.
19 The total number of towns for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.
20 The rest of the Kohathite clans of the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim:
21 In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Gezer,22 Kibzaim and Beth Horon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.
23 Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon,24 Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.
25 From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—two towns.
26 All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.
27 The Levite clans of the Gershonites were given:
from the half-tribe of Manasseh,
Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Be Eshterah, together with their pasturelands—two towns;
28 from the tribe of Issachar,
Kishion, Daberath,29 Jarmuth and En Gannim, together with their pasturelands—four towns;
30 from the tribe of Asher,
Mishal, Abdon,31 Helkath and Rehob, together with their pasturelands—four towns;
32 from the tribe of Naphtali,
Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Hammoth Dor and Kartan, together with their pasturelands—three towns.
33 The total number of towns of the Gershonite clans came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.
34 The Merarite clans (the rest of the Levites) were given:
from the tribe of Zebulun,
Jokneam, Kartah,35 Dimnah and Nahalal, together with their pasturelands—four towns;
36 from the tribe of Reuben,
Bezer, Jahaz,37 Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands—four towns;
38 from the tribe of Gad,
Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Mahanaim,39 Heshbon and Jazer, together with their pasturelands—four towns in all.
40 The total number of towns allotted to the Merarite clans, who were the rest of the Levites, came to twelve.
41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands.42 Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.
43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there.44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands.45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
“Forgiveness is like running a marathon in that you cannot practice for one day and then expect to excel. In order to be successful, you must put in the work, conditioning your mind and heart to achieve desired results” ~Taryn Barnes
I’ll be honest, forgiveness is a tough business. There are times where transgressions can pass you by with a blink of an eye. Then other times, you may find yourself thinking things that you wouldn’t dare tell another living soul. As we progress in our walk with God, we get tested in all aspects and forgiveness can be quite the challenge.
Unpack Your Feelings
I recently had a major struggle in the forgiveness department. On paper, I understood that the chain of events wouldn’t resolve in the way that I would’ve liked, and at the time I had made up my mind to forgive and move on. However, as logical as I am, I forgot to dig a little deeper to unpack the emotional aspects of forgiveness. Though my brain had moved on, I had come to realize that I was still fraught with anger, resentment, rejection, sadness, and other fun feelings.
Let Them Go
Once I targeted the emotional barriers that were tripping me up on my quest for forgiveness, I realized that I had to let them go. Holding on to negative emotions only hinders your progress to grow with God, clouding your mind and judgment. Bottom line, you have to acknowledge those feelings in order for you to let them go.
Practice Makes Perfect
It takes practice to improve the art of forgiveness. Some people take to it naturally, while others have to put in a little extra work, which is perfectly ok. Don’t be afraid to get a training partner, who has run the race of forgiveness a bit longer than you. I often tease my dad about how amazing he is at forgiving people. Like a raincoat in the midst of a crazy storm, allowing transgressions to fall right off. I’m still working on my raincoat, but I try and put in the practice. We all start somewhere, advancing to different levels as we progress. Fortunately, in time, and with proper conditioning, we can extend grace and mercy to our fellow man as God extends it to us.
Question of the day
Are you showing up for your strength and conditioning practices for forgiveness?
Numbers 17 NIV
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff
1The LORD said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. 5The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” 6So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the covenant law. 8The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff. 10The LORD said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11Moses did just as the LORD commanded him. 12The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?”
“The Good Deal that God has for you is right in front of your eyes every day if you listen, open up your heart, mind, and senses to the truth, centered in front of your face, by faith; if you don’t walk away.” ~ Jon Barnes
When The Opportunity comes to help, give, and love by faith, will you be there to do the good job, acting, and following through to add the water and work? Did you listen and do what you were told or did you walk away from the action and heat, just because you are uncomfortable? Being still and laziness is not an option. Get out of your virtual reality and start living with people, who are a vital part of your deal and physical reality in space and time.
New experiences are wrapped up into old fashioned work ethics of faith, that separates the doers from the thinkers. Thinking and talking about the experience is NOT the Good New Experience you need to move ahead in doing the job. You must work in your faith and fear not, since God is with your Good Work in the deal. There is no deal to close if you don’t walk through the work by faith, leaving behind the sins of the flesh.
Closing The Deal starts with God, who gives you the Good Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul to act. Complete the work in your imagination, seeing the end results, as you take steps in the right direction in reality. When your steps are ordered by God and you stand still, your faith is deactivated, denied, delayed, and derailed by your own hands and faulty imagination of disobedience. Do all of the work, stop taking short cuts, and activate your faith in the moment of time you have right now, obeying God at every step.
Are you imagining the Deal and walking by faith, doing the work with God’s Mind Set with the people right next to you?
Enjoy Today’s Reading
2 Corinthians 12
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing.12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you?18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.