“Darkness cannot remain when you turn on the Light.”~TB
Fear of the unknown. Many of us have trouble understanding what we cannot see or what we do not know. When we are unaware of the Truth of Christ, we fall prey to fearing the lies and falsehoods of the world and opposition. Like a strange figure in the dark, we are afraid of what could be instead of basking in the light of what is. Just like that strange blob in the darkness, when you flip on the light switch, you realize that it’s a coat on a hanger or some other innocuous object. If you’re like me, you laugh that you were afraid of the initial fear because in reality, there was nothing to fear at all! There are so many ‘afraid of the dark’ situation that we will face in this world. So, instead of bowing down to the fear, turn on the Light that is God.
When you know Who made you and you are in relationship with Him, you understand your purpose and the path becomes lit up and clear. Knowing Christ is like the ultimate luminous source because His Truth exposes the darkness and lies. We read the Bible not out of blind obedience, but because of the Truth and Light it provides for every day of our lives. When the lights are on, you don’t fall prey to the shadows because you see things for what they are instead of fearing what they could be. Of course temptation will remain, but you will see clearly what path and choices you make. So the next time you’re struggling with fear, turn on the Light that is Christ. Cling to His Truth and purpose for your life so that He may light your way and expose the nonsense of the dark.
Are you stalled by the fear of dark shadows or are you walking in the Light of Christ?
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1“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home.
5Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
6Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah. The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshiping the LORD .
7The flocks of Kedar will be given to you, and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for my altars. I will accept their offerings, and I will make my Temple glorious.
8“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel, like doves to their nests?
9They are ships from the ends of the earth, from lands that trust in me, led by the great ships of Tarshish. They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away, carrying their silver and gold. They will honor the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has filled you with splendor.
10“Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns, and their kings will serve you. For though I have destroyed you in my anger, I will now have mercy on you through my grace.
11Your gates will stay open day and night to receive the wealth of many lands. The kings of the world will be led as captives in a victory procession.
12For the nations that refuse to serve you will be destroyed.
13“The glory of Lebanon will be yours— the forests of cypress, fir, and pine— to beautify my sanctuary. My Temple will be glorious!
14The descendants of your tormentors will come and bow before you. Those who despised you will kiss your feet. They will call you the City of the LORD, and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15“Though you were once despised and hated, with no one traveling through you, I will make you beautiful forever, a joy to all generations.
16Powerful kings and mighty nations will satisfy your every need, as though you were a child nursing at the breast of a queen. You will know at last that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.
17I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler.
18Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
19“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
20Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the LORD will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.
22The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”
“Imagine what our relationship with God would be if we only followed His directions.”~TB
In theory, God’s Will, laws, and ways are not difficult to understand. That said, it’s amazing how fickle, fleshly, and wayward we can be. God will give us simple, easy to follow instructions, but like Red Riding Hood, something catches our eye and we stray from the path. Then when we are at the mercy of our choices and the opposition, we cry out to God to put us back on the straight and narrow. And when He does, many of us often fall back into the same pattern, never maturing in Christ. When you reflect on this, it’s hard not to think about how odd and foolish we can be.
As flesh-driven creatures, obedience to Christ and His ways is tough! We have to humbly submit ourselves to His plans and designs for our lives. The struggle lies in allowing Christ behind the wheel instead of driving ourselves. The ironic part is that walking in step with Christ yields fruit way sweeter than anything we can cultivate on our own. However, to actualize this, we must reign in our behavior, thoughts, and minds, following the instruction of God rather than our own directions. When that happens God can then use us to our full potential.
Where could you be if you followed the directions of Christ?
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1Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
2For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
3“But you—come here, you witches’ children, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4Whom do you mock, making faces and sticking out your tongues? You children of sinners and liars!
5You worship your idols with great passion beneath the oaks and under every green tree. You sacrifice your children down in the valleys, among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
6Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy?
7You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me.
8You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies.
9You have gone to Molech with olive oil and many perfumes, sending your agents far and wide, even to the world of the dead.
10You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. Desire gave you renewed strength, and you did not grow weary.
11“Are you afraid of these idols? Do they terrify you? Is that why you have lied to me and forgotten me and my words? Is it because of my long silence that you no longer fear me?
12Now I will expose your so-called good deeds. None of them will help you.
13Let’s see if your idols can save you when you cry to them for help. Why, a puff of wind can knock them down! If you just breathe on them, they fall over! But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
14God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”
15The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
16For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away— all the souls I have made.
17I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way.
18I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn,
19bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the LORD, who heals them.
20“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt.
“We are all God’s agents, dispatched to exemplify His name on various missions.”~TB
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to go out of the country to a foreign land to go on missions for Christ. In fact, chances are you can do more for you neighbor in God’s name than you can to someone who may not be able to fully understand your language. That’s not a dig at those doing great works in other nations. It is a gentle reminder that we all have a duty to help the poor, the widowed, and the downtrodden which you can easily find in your backyard. Like agents on a secret mission, listen to your Holy Commander for your next assignment. That could be feeding the less fortunate, uplifting a family member or neighbor, the list is long and God knows who to select for the cause. If you are looking for a way to get in on the fun that is serving Christ through serving others, all you have to do is look at the Word for guidance.
Spoiler alert #2: you don’t have to shove the Word down the throat of those you serve on your Mission. Look at your dossier– The Word– and read it carefully to understand its instructions. A lot of us get caught up in our egos and go off script with our “help” causing more harm than good. God calls us to be examplesnot enforcers, and there is a difference. Your Mission is torpedoed when you go off script and blow your cover. When working for God, all you have to do is be a light, shining kindness, love, mercy, and humility when carrying out your mission. We are not dispatched to judge because that job is solely reserved for the One who can. So instead of beating the Bible across the faces of “heathens”, try meeting a need. If you are truly looking to show people who God is, love them as He loves you; which means keep the self-righteousness and judgment at home.
Are you carrying out God’s Mission or your own?
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1This is what the LORD says: “Be just and fair to all. Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you.
2Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong.
3“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
4For this is what the LORD says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
5I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!
6“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.
7I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
8For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
9Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!
10For the leaders of my people— the LORD ’s watchmen, his shepherds— are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
11Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
12“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk. Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
“When you walk with God daily, He gives you your daily bread.”~TB
What if there was a pill that you could take once a day that would change the way you looked at life, people, and the challenges that each day brings? We’d all probably be in line for a lifetime supply. Think about it, if there was something that could radically change our lives for the better, wouldn’t we all do what was necessary to obtain it? Funny thing is, there is someone who can do all that and more and I’m not just being hyperbolic. Maintaining an authentic relationship with Christ is the key to living this life victoriously. Problem is, without faith or vision, we cannot achieve it.
Once a Day
If there’s one thing my dad always points back to it’s the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a great starting point no matter where you are in your walk with God. While there is so much information to distill from it, the daily bread part sticks out to me in that God gives us the resources each day to walk through life triumphantly. I go one daily walks with my dog where I will have a dialogue with God. For an hour or so, I vent, praise, complain, exhort and all the above to Him. Then, I listen and download my daily bread. Chewing on God’s word daily gives us the tools and ability to navigate a backwards world filled with misguided situations. I find that my days are more peaceful when I go on these walks.
Following Christ is not about ‘repent or go to hell’ semantics. Yes, salvation is a gift, but God provides a host of benefits if you choose to listen to His wisdom. Restoration and healing occur when you walk with God because you begin to understand things like forgiveness, mercy, and kindness in a different light. If there is one thing I’d encourage people to do, it would be to forge a relationship with Christ, not out of fear or blind obedience but as a connection between a parent and a child. When you know Christ, you can see Him in a more authentic manner, rather than the tropes we rely on. If you truly want to radically change your days, get your daily bread by talking with Christ each day.
Where do you get your daily bread?
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1“Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the LORD .
2“Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities.
4“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.
5For your Creator will be your husband; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.
6For the LORD has called you back from your grief— as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
7“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back.
8In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
11“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones.
13I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
14You will be secure under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away. You will live in peace, and terror will not come near.
15If any nation comes to fight you, it is not because I sent them. Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.
16“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy.
17But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD ; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!
“If God is not at the forefront of your life, you will malfunction”~TB
It’s amazing to me to see how many of us live apart from God. The truth is, we are all creations made by His design. If you don’t believe that, take a look around and see how broken this world is. People all around are ruled by their flesh, the world and the opposition. That’s not a judgment, just an observation. While many believe that something is missing, few seek the true fix, which is a relationship with God. Salvation is a wonderful gift given to us, but that is not the only reason to put God first in your life.
God is the Manufacturer, salvation is the warranty, and we are the product. Think of it this way, the appliances we buy come with instructions on how to best use them. When an appliance is broken and it is under warranty, you take it back to the manufacturer to be fixed or replaced. Though the warranty is there as a safety measure, the instructions on how to keep the appliance functioning well is just as important. Let’s put that back into perspective with God. God manufactured us. Salvation —the warranty—spares us from judgment. The instructions— The Bible and our walk— keep us in tune by operating as we were designed.
When we accept God into our lives, our warranty is extended and never expires. That said, following the instructions and using proper care keeps us from having to go back in for repairs. The Living Word is a valuable resource that can enrich our lives when we refer to it daily. Walking and talking with God daily allows us to directly download the Heavenly updates so that our hardware works at intended. This has to be a daily occurrence because we all have so much to learn and the world is forever throwing virus-like downloads that corrupt our original design. If you’re tired of not functioning properly and the world’s cheap fixes aren’t cutting it, dust off that warranty and call the Holy Manufacturer for some much needed upgrades.
Are you following the Holy Manufacturer’s instructions or do you believe you are self-manufactured?
Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?
2My servant grew up in the LORD ’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
3He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
5But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
6All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.
7He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
8Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.
9He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
10But it was the LORD ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD ’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
12I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
“In order to hear God, we first have to evict all of the noise that is in our minds.”~TB
At Some Point
Are you aware of what you think about on a daily basis? Better yet, how do you talk to yourself internally? How you think and what you say to yourself ultimately confirms who and what you believe in. The negative junk that clogs our minds comes from two places: the opposition and some poor souls who poured their negativity onto you. The good news, it’s all lies. Even better news, you have the power to control and filter what you think and what you say to yourself. At some point, you have to take captive your thoughts and let the past hurts fade away.
Listening and following God daily is the ultimate way to evict the junky thoughts that fill your mind. This is because His Truth supersedes whatever anyone else says about you. Remember, He made you.So who better to believe, the One who created you or the one who was cast out of heaven? When you make it your mission to talk to God each and every day, notice the internal communication you receive. His words are kind, loving and true. In order to hear them loud and clear, evict the crap, the negative feedback loops and the like so that you may know your true self in Him
Are you ready to serve your negative thoughts their eviction papers?
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1Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.
2Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
3For this is what the LORD says: “When I sold you into exile, I received no payment. Now I can redeem you without having to pay for you.”
4This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Long ago my people chose to live in Egypt. Now they are oppressed by Assyria.
5What is this?” asks the LORD . “Why are my people enslaved again? Those who rule them shout in exultation. My name is blasphemed all day long.
6But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them.”
7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!
8The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem.
9Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the LORD has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God.
11Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD .
12You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
13See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted.
14But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
15And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.
“God will provide the solutions for your life, but it is your job to put them into action.”~TB
If you ignore the chaotic abyss that is the world, a life following Christ becomes more tangible. The older I get, the more I realize that the answers to life’s questions that I seek can be found in the Bible and by talking to God. Man, I could have avoided many dumb decisions earlier on had I heeded His word. In quiet study and communication lies the many wonderful and simple solutions that only Christ can give. Imagine the kind of life we could live if only we used the correct answers instead of our own!
It’s one thing to know what to do; it’s an entirely different story to do it. I find that when I walk the path He’s set before me, things miraculously make sense. On the flip side, when I’m copying others or looking for external validation, my world becomes complex, messy, and off task. Getting the solutions is the simple part, putting them into action, well that’s a lifelong endeavor. To fulfill the call that God has for our lives, we must quiet the outside noise and follow the instructions and solutions that He gives.
Are you using God’s solutions for life’s equations?
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1“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises,
2even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
3Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.
4For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze.
5That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’
6You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard.
7They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
8“Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.
9Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out.
10I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11I will rescue you for my sake— yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!
12“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last.
13It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
14Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies.
15“I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed.
16Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message.
17This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
19Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
20Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The LORD has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.
21They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.
22“But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the LORD .
Have you ever noticed how the majority of the world’s standards and practices go against the Biblical and wise solutions and messages of Christ? More to the point, society teaches us the very ideas that poison our mind, body, and spirit. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but hear me out. What we eat, how we think, what we do with our bodies— there’s this indoctrination of indulgence and gluttony. We also glorify a lazy and mediocre existence. For argument’s sake, let’s drop the morality perspective and focus on the physiological. The mind, body and soul are all connected, which means how we treat one impacts the rest.
How’s your thought life? Do you hold yourself in a positive light or do you allow others to tear you down and believe their lies? Stinkin’ Thinkin’— as Joyce Meyer calls it— is detrimental to your wellbeing. The beauty is that we can control what we choose to think about. Of course, that take a conscious and present effort. Distraction is the ultimate slippery slope to a junky thought life. When your thoughts are negative, you’re less likely to take care of yourself, both physically and spiritually. This feeds directly into how you treat your body.
Physical activity is incredibly important. It helps us to reconcile the mind junk and hold on to the positive truths. Food is also key. What are you eating? Fun fact, your stomach contains neurons, which acts as your second brain. So when you eat junk, it messes with your brain. When we talk about mental health, it’s impossible not to connect your dietary habits with your mind because your stomach quite literally contributes to it. As for the soul connection, if you’re out there using your body like a playground with others, friends there are major spiritual implications.
Have you ever wondered why we call liquor ‘spirits’? Alcohol isn’t inherently bad, I mean Jesus turned water into wine after all. But context matters as does the spiritual implications of drugs (I could go on but this post is pretty long already). Sex in its proper context is great! However, when it’s as common as a handshake, as the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. And I’m not just talking about diseases. Though our society teaches a “free spirit” and “sex positive” attitude, it fails to teach you the spiritual pitfalls that come from that lifestyle. There is a spiritual transference that occurs and you’re essentially giving pieces of yourself whenever you partake. No, this isn’t meant to shame you into celibacy. In fact, this isn’t about shame at all. But notice how these three things cycle back together. A broken mind leads to a broken body thus leading to a broken spirit, or any combination of the three. So why is this important?
Because God created us, our minds, bodies, and souls cannot be explained without Him. We are like his custom-built machines, which mean He’s the ultimate User Manual. So if we stand a chance to flee from our flesh, the world and the opposition, we have to continually read and understand the User Manual AKA the Bible. When we engage in pleasure-seeking activities that exist outside of His will for us, we suffer. No, not because He’s punishing us, it’s because we aren’t operating as intended. It’s like putting diesel fuel in a gas tank. You’re going to mess up the engine. We must stop perceiving discipline and obedience as punitive but as the guidelines for healthy operation. Guard your mind, body, and soul accordingly so that you can work as God intended. He made you for a purpose.
Who or what is in control of your “machinery”
1“Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. For your days of sitting on a throne have ended. O daughter of Babylonia, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.
2Take heavy millstones and grind flour. Remove your veil, and strip off your robe. Expose yourself to public view.
3You will be naked and burdened with shame. I will take vengeance against you without pity.”
4Our Redeemer, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, is the Holy One of Israel.
5“O beautiful Babylon, sit now in darkness and silence. Never again will you be known as the queen of kingdoms.
6For I was angry with my chosen people and punished them by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You oppressed even the elderly.
7You said, ‘I will reign forever as queen of the world!’ You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences.
8“Listen to this, you pleasure-loving kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure. You say, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other. I will never be a widow or lose my children.’
9Well, both these things will come upon you in a moment: widowhood and the loss of your children. Yes, these calamities will come upon you, despite all your witchcraft and magic.
10“You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’
11So disaster will overtake you, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.
12“Now use your magical charms! Use the spells you have worked at all these years! Maybe they will do you some good. Maybe they can make someone afraid of you.
13All the advice you receive has made you tired. Where are all your astrologers, those stargazers who make predictions each month? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds.
14But they are like straw burning in a fire; they cannot save themselves from the flame. You will get no help from them at all; their hearth is no place to sit for warmth.
15And all your friends, those with whom you’ve done business since childhood, will go their own ways, turning a deaf ear to your cries.
“The devil is like an annoying noisy upstairs neighbor. Don’t let him take your peace.”~TB
It is incredibly important for you to remember that the devil is a one hit wonder. His song entices you to take your eyes off the prize that is Christ. He’ll go about it in different ways, but rest assured, it’s the same song, different pitch. Think of him like the frustrating neighbor who cranks up the music because they know it bothers you. Their actions may be annoying, but the secret, rather, the truth is in how you deal with the situation. He can’t do anything to you that can truly affect you. You can however, do his bidding by being the weakest link.
Everyone at one point or another has been the weakest link in any relationship. If you’re the weakest link, it can transpire in a few ways. You cause arguments on arbitrary issues. You’re too legalistic or litigious without balancing your judgement with mercy and grace. You refuse to apologize when you’re wrong. Even worse, you get mad at the person you’ve wronged! To stop being the weakest link, we all have to reflect on our behavior with honesty and humility. Ask yourself, if you love the person that you’re fighting with, is winning the argument that big of a deal? What do you stand to gain if you win the battle but lose the relationship? In those instances, only the devil wins, which is the point!
If you indeed find yourself in the weakest link seat, have a chat with God. There’s a good chance that our issues are ones that we’ve been dealing with for a long time. When you lean on God, you learn to put the sword down and stop fighting. When speaking with God, He will tell you that you’re quarrel isn’t with man, it’s with the opposition. However, you must acknowledge your weak link behavior and that takes some work. No one likes to admit that our number 2’s stink. But they do! So when you embrace humility and recognize that the goal isn’t to be right or to stir discord within your family, friends, or community, you stop being the devil’s plaything. Just ask and you shall receive.
Are you ready to stop being the devil’s pawn or do you enjoy disturbing the peace?
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1This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again.
2This is what the LORD says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
3And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
4“And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
5I am the LORD ; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me,
6so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
7I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
8“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.
9“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”
11This is what the LORD says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
13I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people— without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
14This is what the LORD says: “You will rule the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans. They will come to you with all their merchandise, and it will all be yours. They will follow you as prisoners in chains. They will fall to their knees in front of you and say, ‘God is with you, and he is the only God. There is no other.’”
15Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.
16All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together.
17But the LORD will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.
18For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other.
19I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
20“Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save!
21Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD ? For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me.
22Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.
23I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me. ”
24The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
25In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.
“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.