“Consider it as joy when you suffer for what is right. God will balance the scales in all things.”~TB
Through the Fire
If we believe that the Bible is accurate and true, we must accept the trouble that is a byproduct of following God’s will in our lives. When you are working for the Lord, giving Him your best, don’t be surprised when evil people seek to throw you in the fire. While it is human to want to crawl out of the pit, fearing for your safety, rest assured God is with you, keeping you from being burned.
In your time of waiting for man-made judgment take comfort in knowing that God has declared you not guilty on all accounts. The devil will always make your waiting time appear more dire and severe than it truly is. Looking back at certain trials of my life while the waiting period was insanely frustrating, scary, and uncertain to my eyes, I realize as I sit here today, I was never harmed! So, if you are working for the Lord, being a humble servant, opposition and persecution are par for the course but know that God has the final say in the end and He will restore all that and more to those who remain faithful.
Are you not guilty or are you falsely accusing those who are?
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1“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! Sound the alarm in Tekoa! Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem! A powerful army is coming from the north, coming with disaster and destruction.
2O Jerusalem, you are my beautiful and delicate daughter— but I will destroy you!
3Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city. Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
4They shout, ‘Prepare for battle! Attack at noon!’ ‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading, and the evening shadows are falling.’
5‘Well then, let’s attack at night and destroy her palaces!’”
6This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Cut down the trees for battering rams. Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished, for she is wicked through and through.
7She spouts evil like a fountain. Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction. I always see her sickness and sores.
8Listen to this warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn from you in disgust. Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins, a land where no one lives.”
9This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Even the few who remain in Israel will be picked over again, as when a harvester checks each vine a second time to pick the grapes that were missed.”
10To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the LORD . They don’t want to listen at all.
11So now I am filled with the LORD ’s fury. Yes, I am tired of holding it in! “I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets and on gatherings of young men, on husbands and wives and on those who are old and gray.
12Their homes will be turned over to their enemies, as will their fields and their wives. For I will raise my powerful fist against the people of this land,” says the LORD .
13“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds.
14They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
15Are they ashamed of their 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 .
16This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
17I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
18“Therefore, listen to this, all you nations. Take note of my people’s situation.
19Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster on my people. It is the fruit of their own schemes, because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected my word.
20There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba. Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands! I will not accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”
21Therefore, this is what the LORD says: “I will put obstacles in my people’s path. Fathers and sons will both fall over them. Neighbors and friends will die together.”
22This is what the LORD says: “Look! A great army coming from the north! A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
23They are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like a roaring sea as they ride forward on horses. They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem. ”
24We have heard reports about the enemy, and we wring our hands in fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped us, like those of a woman in labor.
25Don’t go out to the fields! Don’t travel on the roads! The enemy’s sword is everywhere and terrorizes us at every turn!
26Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap and sit among the ashes. Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son. For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!
27“Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people.
28They are the worst kind of rebel, full of slander. They are as hard as bronze and iron, and they lead others into corruption.
29The bellows fiercely fan the flames to burn out the corruption. But it does not purify them, for the wickedness remains.
30I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’ for I, the LORD, am discarding them.”
“Only you can give up your peace; but you must cultivate your faith to believe it.”~TB
Faith is total trust and confidence in God. It’s a verb in that you must act on it every second of every day. Though we can’t open a door and say “Here is God!”, we know that He exists and is the creator of all. It’s easy to say we have faith. After all, it sounds pretty and whimsical. But there is a fundamental difference between talking faith and walking in faith. And, we are tested on this day in and day out. The devil can rattle your cage, but ultimately you must decided whether or not to lose your peace about it.
Walking in faith means that even though you are not in control of your situation, you are at total peace because you know who is. It means to sit still and let God handle the heavy lifting in your life. It also means to not allow your upstairs neighbor who likes to crank her bass up loud all day long after you’ve talked to her twice about it get under your skin. When you experience a tough time, remember that God is sovereign and there is nothing out of His control. So don’t merely talk about faith, walk in it so that you can experience the Hand of God in your life.
Are you using the real ‘F’ word?
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1But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.
7Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.
9Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.
11I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.
12First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD .
13“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
14This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King.
16I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea.
17I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
26Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws.
28That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.
“Life will always present new opportunities and challenges, so hang tight, calm down, and remember who made you.”~TB
This sin fallen world will lull you into the fake belief that Christian life is some perfect-Instagram-able filter, where Jesus protects you from experiencing any pain or hardship. Many of you believe that if bad things happen, God must not be around. How foolish! Read your Bibles and you will see that every single person who took up their Holy employment struggled with many things. Even David, God’s favorite, endured hardship. The enemy uses this false ploy to deceive young believers. The moment you face a struggle, you abandon ship. You cower in fear and anguish over every little thing, because you haven’t done your reading. Friends, use your hardships to deepen your relationship with God. In those moments, double-down in your faith.
No one gets out of this life unbruised as we are all tested, pruned, pressed, into becoming more and more into the image of our Father in Heaven. To walk the path of Jesus means to catch a glimpse of what He endured to save us. When you understand this truth, go to the ultimate playbook, the Bible, to see how to navigate tricky situations. Troubles do not go away the closer you walk with God. However, because you’ve done your work and you know His teachings, He gives you the grace, strength, patience to endure any and every test thrown your way. So stop looking for the perfect life as a sign that God is good. God is Good because He IS. Calm down, remember the truth, and make Biblical decisions in all that you do.
How do you respond to your trials and tribulations?
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1A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
2Those who follow the right path fear the LORD ; those who take the wrong path despise him.
3A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe.
4Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.
5An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.
6A mocker seeks wisdom and never finds it, but knowledge comes easily to those with understanding.
7Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.
8The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.
9Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.
10Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.
11The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish.
12There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
13Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
14Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward.
15Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.
16The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.
17Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.
18Simpletons are clothed with foolishness, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19Evil people will bow before good people; the wicked will bow at the gates of the godly.
20The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many “friends.”
21It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.
22If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.
23Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!
24Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.
25A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is a traitor.
26Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a refuge for their children.
27Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.
28A growing population is a king’s glory; a prince without subjects has nothing.
29People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
30A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
31Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.
32The wicked are crushed by disaster, but the godly have a refuge when they die.
33Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.
34Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
35A king rejoices in wise servants but is angry with those who disgrace him.
“Don’t fixate on your problems, because you may miss God’s solutions and blessing to the resolve it.”~TB
Smoke and Mirrors
The devil will use your setbacks to transfix you on the problems you face. When you are only focused on the problems, you are not paying attention to the Biblically simple solutions that will propel you to the next chapter in your life. Don’t miss your blessing by obsessing over the challenges. Objects are smaller than they appear.
God made you as you are, which means you have the tools to overcome any obstacle. One of the biggest misconceptions about walking with Christ is that all of your fleshly afflictions vanish and life becomes perfect. No, as you mature in Christ, you recognize that your flesh is fickle, so you simply step aside from the traps to avoid them. Not every thought and feeling is valid or useful so let go of the ones that cause you to stumble.
When you finally understand that you must depend on God in every second of every day, you let go of your man-made solutions which probably got you into your troubles in the first place. Let go of your legalistic pride, and accept the wisdom of God, which will gently nudge you to practice patience, forgiveness, and humility. Sure, you may not “win” every human argument, but winning with God is better than any victory the world could ever give you.
Are you fixating on your right ways or are you leaning on God’s solutions?
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1When the Israelites escaped from Egypt— when the family of Jacob left that foreign land—
2the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary, and Israel became his kingdom.
3The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way! The water of the Jordan River turned away.
4The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs!
5What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way? What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6Why, mountains, did you skip like rams? Why, hills, like lambs?
7Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.
“It’s easy to perform well when the conditions are in your favor, whereas trials can make the task extremely difficult to complete. Intense pressure turns coal into diamonds, in the same manner that suffering for Christ brings you closer to God.” ~Taryn Barnes
In the beginning, God gives us milk, gently showing us the way to become mature Christians as we begin our path to follow Christ. He gives us plain and clear direction, encouraging us in our walk. Be thankful for the times where life is plentiful and the walk with God shows you favor and abundance in life.
In time, God weans us off of milk, giving us meat that will prove to be tougher to digest than the milk previously given. It is best to ingest slowly and carefully as these messages often always are not meant to be swallowed in one bite. Be thankful for the times of famine and confusion as this is a test of your ability to continue following Christ sight unseen.
As people who have made the conscious decision to take up the cross each and every day, we will experience seasons of feast and famine; encountering trials and tribulations that human understanding will never fully resolve. Don’t be afraid of trials and tribulations as they are an indication that you have chosen the narrow path that leads to everlasting life. Rejoice in all of these seasons as they bring us toward Christ, forming a closer bond to God than we could ever imagine.
Question of the day
In your times of trial, are you leaning on your understanding, or God’s?
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Numbers 8 NIV
Setting Up the Lamps
1The LORD said to Moses, 2“Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’ ” 3Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the LORD commanded Moses. 4This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the LORD had shown Moses.
The Setting Apart of the Levites
5The LORD said to Moses: 6“Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean. 7To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves. 8Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering. 9Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. 10You are to bring the Levites before the LORD, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. 11Aaron is to present the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the LORD.
12“Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the LORD and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites. 13Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the LORD. 14In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.15“After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting. 16They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman.
17Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. 18And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. 19From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.” 20Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the LORD commanded Moses. 21The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD and made atonement for them to purify them.
22After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the LORD commanded Moses. 23The LORD said to Moses,24“This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting,
25but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.
26They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”