“Growing in your relationship with Christ requires constant self-reflection.”
Accepting salvation means that we are consciously declaring that we need God and are taking Him up on Jesus’ sacrifice. Of course, for us to admit the need for help, we have to be able to accurately assess our shortcomings. When we were blind, it was easier to accept our corrupt and flesh-driven behaviors as truth. Even still, there is (and always will be) a nagging feeling that something is missing. When we fail to develop an authentic connection with God, we will always be looking at a stranger in the mirror.
If you’re tired of worshipping false idols, including yourself, take an honest reflection in the mirror. Ask God to reveal the Truth, and humbly look within to see the Truth of the need for salvation. When we look in the mirror to see who we are without Christ, it becomes clear that we must reflect on who He is to have a better understanding. So friends, let’s not get too high and mighty off of our own reflection. Instead, develop the spiritual maturity to embrace God’s reflection. In doing so, you build your relationship in Christ through self-reflection.
Are you too proud of your own image to see how foolish you’ve become?
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1 Mobilize! Marshal your troops! The enemy is laying siege to Jerusalem. They will strike Israel’s leader in the face with a rod. 2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. 3 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. 4 And he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD ’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. 5 And he will be the source of peace. When the Assyrians invade our land and break through our defenses, we will appoint seven rulers to watch over us, eight princes to lead us. 6 They will rule Assyria with drawn swords and enter the gates of the land of Nimrod. He will rescue us from the Assyrians when they pour over the borders to invade our land. 7 Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like dew sent by the LORD or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain. 8 The remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a strong young lion among flocks of sheep and goats, pouncing and tearing as they go with no rescuer in sight. 9 The people of Israel will stand up to their foes, and all their enemies will be wiped out. 10 “In that day,” says the LORD, “I will slaughter your horses and destroy your chariots. 11 I will tear down your walls and demolish your defenses. 12 I will put an end to all witchcraft, and there will be no more fortune-tellers. 13 I will destroy all your idols and sacred pillars, so you will never again worship the work of your own hands. 14 I will abolish your idol shrines with their Asherah poles and destroy your pagan cities. 15 I will pour out my vengeance on all the nations that refuse to obey me.” Micah 4Micah 6 Parallel Compare
“Learn to enjoy and practice honest, straight-up work.”
Here’s a tip, if you desire to live a Christ-led life, do the opposite of what the world teaches you. This also includes the misconception of an honest day’s work. While society touts riches and rewards for superficial deeds, there is deep and profound wisdom gained in laboring for the Lord.
Honest work develops disciplined and steadfast hands. There is something to be said when you’re able to admire the fruits of your labor. That same honest, humble work ethic applies to the work we put into knowing God. When you learn to enjoy seeking Him, you can consider the labor as joy.
Are you straight-up working or straight-up lying?
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1 “At the time of those events,” says the LORD, “when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. 3 They threw dice to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk. 4 “What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, then watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. 5 You have taken my silver and gold and all my precious treasures, and have carried them off to your pagan temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, so they could take them far from their homeland. 7 “But I will bring them back from all the places to which you sold them, and I will pay you back for everything you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the people of Arabia, a nation far away. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9 Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. 10 Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. 11 Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O LORD, call out your warriors! 12 “Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the LORD, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” 14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. 16 The LORD ’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel. 17 “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again. 18 In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the LORD ’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will become a wasteland and Edom will become a wilderness, because they attacked the people of Judah and killed innocent people in their land. 20 “But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations. 21 I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the LORD, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.”
“In order to be free of what consumes you, you must starve it out.”
Sin doesn’t just go away by praying to God to remove it from your life. No, you must do the work to actively stop the practice of immoral behavior. More to the point, just because it isn’t easy does not mean God gave you free license to live in a particular sin. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you ‘tried’ means that you get a pass. Remember that God alone knows the true motives of our hearts.
Sin is a symptom of a greater issue. It’s the external evidence of an internal problem. For this reason, just merely abstaining from the act does not change the real issue. Sure, you may go for some time without the deed, but if the problem is just tamped down, eventually you will fall back into old patterns. So whether you’re struggling from lust, pride, anger, jealousy, or any other affliction, if you’re truly looking for the answer, you must come to God correctly, by asking Him to reveal what ails you.
Remember that sin is the act of fulfilling a need that only God can. It will never provide you with the peace you’re truly after. Instead of asking God to remove the behavior, humbly submit to Him and ask the honest questions. Ask Him to reveal the true nature of your behavior. Ask Him to show you what ails you. Reflect on the Word to better understand the needs of God’s children. As he reveals to you what these issues are, ask for direction. By doing the deep work, God will honor your resolve by imparting the wisdom necessary to break away from sinful behaviors by strengthening your relationship with Him
Are you ready to draw closer to God to change your ways?
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1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. ” 2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. 3 Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me. ” 4 This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! 5 But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness.
It’s amazing what fear will drive us to do (or not do). If you look all throughout the Bible, you will see that people lied, stole, cheated, killed, and so much more on the basis of fear. Of course, if you finish those stories, you will find that those sinful actions rooted in fear always caused more problems in the end. Fear of the Lord is good; all else is wasted effort.
In order to rise above our flesh-driven ways, we must exercise faith, self-control, discipline, and temperance. Like developing muscles or a healthy diet, we have to take up our cross daily to walk away from sin and turn to God. Friends, faith requires action. So if you desire to turn away from wickedness, have faith in the One who created you and put in the work.
What is stronger in your life; faith or fear?
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1 The LORD gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. 2 When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” 3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the LORD said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.” 6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the LORD their God.” 8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God. 10 “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel —when God will again plant his people in his land.
“If you keep repeating your trials over and over, it’s time to study with God to pass your tests.”
Every single one of us has trials, struggles, and tests that we must study for. If not, we are doomed to repeat the same dumb behaviors time and time again. God does not want us to waste our time here by being stuck in our footholds. If you’re tired of the monotony, it’s time to open your hearts and minds to the word of Christ.
We get to the next day by leaving our misdeeds and sins behind. Friends, we cannot change on our own, which is why we must read, walk, and talk with Christ to improve our understanding. When we set aside our pride and ask God for help, we learn how to make better decisions. So lean on God and not your own understanding.
Are you stuck on repeat and need time to study with God?
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1 I have been standing beside Michael to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.) 2 “Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece. 3 “Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do. 4 But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others. 5 “The king of the south will increase in power, but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength. 6 “Some years later an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be abandoned along with her supporters. 7 But when one of her relatives becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him. 8 When he returns to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless articles of gold and silver. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone. 9 “Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land. 10 However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy’s fortress. 11 “Then, in a rage, the king of the south will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them. 12 After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived. 13 “A few years later the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than before. 14 At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Violent men among your own people will join them in fulfillment of this vision, but they will not succeed. 15 Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught. 16 “The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel, intent on destroying it. 17 He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail. 18 “After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame. 19 He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more. 20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle. 21 “The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue. 22 Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince. 23 With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers. 24 Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while. 25 “Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him. 26 His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed. 27 Seeking nothing but each other’s harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time. 28 “The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey. 29 “Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different. 30 For warships from western coastlands will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant. 31 “His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration. 32 He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him. 33 “Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. 34 During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere. 35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come. 36 “The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place. 37 He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. 38 Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts. 39 Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward. 40 “Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape. 42 He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians will be his servants. 44 “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. 45 He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him.
“When you put Christ at the top of your life each day, restored order will infuse your life”
I was stressed out not too long ago. As I sat, thinking about a predicament, my bible caught my eye and I literally thought to myself, “no time for that, I have a problem and need to figure this thing out”. Man, how arrogant! I will say, as soon as that thought left my mind, I realized how foolish it was. Friends, we are created beings that need a leader and direction. Our creator made us with those core needs. We get into a life of chaos when we ditch the script and start looking for answers in our limited, flesh-driven behaviors. If you desire restored order, seek the calming wisdom of Christ.
I like to think of the bible as a how-to (or what no to do, see: Cain, Eve, Joseph’s brothers, yikes!) guide on how to live a Christ-centered life. When I am obedient in my studying, the world around me (though imperfect) becomes easier to navigate. Hard work makes sense, maintaining your possessions, loving your neighbor, paying your debts, all of the mundane things many of us take for granted become the main thing. The bible teaches lessons that when we apply them, we gain wisdom and peace. That is because Christ is at the top, balancing our perspective and behaviors so that we may aspire to lead a life pleasing to Him. If you want to make sense and return to restored order, it’s time to make a relationship with Christ your top priority.
Are you content with the chaos of the world or do you want to restore order by prioritizing Christ?
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1 On June 21, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, give this message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and all his hordes: “To whom would you compare your greatness? 3 You are like mighty Assyria, which was once like a cedar of Lebanon, with beautiful branches that cast deep forest shade and with its top high among the clouds. 4 Deep springs watered it and helped it to grow tall and luxuriant. The water flowed around it like a river, streaming to all the trees nearby. 5 This great tree towered high, higher than all the other trees around it. It prospered and grew long thick branches because of all the water at its roots. 6 The birds nested in its branches, and in its shade all the wild animals gave birth. All the great nations of the world lived in its shadow. 7 It was strong and beautiful, with wide-spreading branches, for its roots went deep into abundant water. 8 No other cedar in the garden of God could rival it. No cypress had branches to equal it; no plane tree had boughs to compare. No tree in the garden of God came close to it in beauty. 9 Because I made this tree so beautiful, and gave it such magnificent foliage, it was the envy of all the other trees of Eden, the garden of God. 10 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because Egypt became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, with its top reaching to the clouds, 11 I will hand it over to a mighty nation that will destroy it as its wickedness deserves. I have already discarded it. 12 A foreign army—the terror of the nations—has cut it down and left it fallen on the ground. Its branches are scattered across the mountains and valleys and ravines of the land. All those who lived in its shadow have gone away and left it lying there. 13 “The birds roost on its fallen trunk, and the wild animals lie among its branches. 14 Let the tree of no other nation proudly exult in its own prosperity, though it be higher than the clouds and it be watered from the depths. For all are doomed to die, to go down to the depths of the earth. They will land in the pit along with everyone else on earth. 15 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When Assyria went down to the grave, I made the deep springs mourn. I stopped its rivers and dried up its abundant water. I clothed Lebanon in black and caused the trees of the field to wilt. 16 I made the nations shake with fear at the sound of its fall, for I sent it down to the grave with all the others who descend to the pit. And all the other proud trees of Eden, the most beautiful and the best of Lebanon, the ones whose roots went deep into the water, took comfort to find it there with them in the depths of the earth. 17 Its allies, too, were all destroyed and had passed away. They had gone down to the grave—all those nations that had lived in its shade. 18 “O Egypt, to which of the trees of Eden will you compare your strength and glory? You, too, will be brought down to the depths with all these other nations. You will lie there among the outcasts who have died by the sword. This will be the fate of Pharaoh and all his hordes. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
“If you’re tired of struggling with the things that weigh you down, ask God to show you how to unlock the chains that bind you.”
Many of us walk around with the weight of our past sins, experiences, and hurts as if a ball and chain were tied to our ankle. Weighed down we struggle in life, dragging on, unable to move freely. Because we’re carrying a weight that we cannot hold, we are unable to see the freedom that Christ provides, unleashing us from all that burdens us. If you feel weighed down, it’s time to ask for help.
Wherever your ball and chain lies, there is a root cause for the weight. Friends, how many of us live life or limit life, based on comments or situations from our past? Maybe your first boss told you that you wouldn’t amount to much and those words began to dictate your future. Perhaps a parent’s neglect left you to believe that you had to work insane amounts of hours to be worthy of love. My point is, that weight has a root cause.
If you’re ready to let that ball and chain go, it’s time to ask your Father in Heaven for the keys. Ask Him to reveal the ball and chains of your life. Sit with Him to uncover the root cause of those struggles. Allow Him to teach you how to forgive those people, the situations, and yourself for what transpired. Grow in the Word so that you may understand how to mature from offense and hurt. When we go to God for these structural breakdowns, He will honor our request with revelation, healing, and mercy, giving us the keys to freedom. All we have to do is ask, seek, and follow.
What is weighing you down, preventing you from God’s will for your life?
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1 This is another message that came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, prophesy and give this message from the Sovereign LORD : “Weep and wail for that day, 3 for the terrible day is almost here— the day of the LORD ! It is a day of clouds and gloom, a day of despair for the nations. 4 A sword will come against Egypt, and those who are slaughtered will cover the ground. Its wealth will be carried away and its foundations destroyed. The land of Ethiopia will be ravished. 5 Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all Arabia, and all their other allies will be destroyed in that war. 6 “For this is what the LORD says: All of Egypt’s allies will fall, and the pride of her power will end. From Migdol to Aswan they will be slaughtered by the sword, says the Sovereign LORD . 7 Egypt will be desolate, surrounded by desolate nations, and its cities will be in ruins, surrounded by other ruined cities. 8 And the people of Egypt will know that I am the LORD when I have set Egypt on fire and destroyed all their allies. 9 At that time I will send swift messengers in ships to terrify the complacent Ethiopians. Great panic will come upon them on that day of Egypt’s certain destruction. Watch for it! It is sure to come! 10 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: By the power of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, I will destroy the hordes of Egypt. 11 He and his armies—the most ruthless of all— will be sent to demolish the land. They will make war against Egypt until slaughtered Egyptians cover the ground. 12 I will dry up the Nile River and sell the land to wicked men. I will destroy the land of Egypt and everything in it by the hands of foreigners. I, the LORD, have spoken! 13 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will smash the idols of Egypt and the images at Memphis. There will be no rulers left in Egypt; terror will sweep the land. 14 I will destroy southern Egypt, set fire to Zoan, and bring judgment against Thebes. 15 I will pour out my fury on Pelusium, the strongest fortress of Egypt, and I will stamp out the hordes of Thebes. 16 Yes, I will set fire to all Egypt! Pelusium will be racked with pain; Thebes will be torn apart; Memphis will live in constant terror. 17 The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis will die in battle, and the women will be taken away as slaves. 18 When I come to break the proud strength of Egypt, it will be a dark day for Tahpanhes, too. A dark cloud will cover Tahpanhes, and its daughters will be led away as captives. 19 And so I will greatly punish Egypt, and they will know that I am the LORD .” 20 On April 29, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD : 21 “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. His arm has not been put in a cast so that it may heal. Neither has it been bound up with a splint to make it strong enough to hold a sword. 22 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am the enemy of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt! I will break both of his arms—the good arm along with the broken one—and I will make his sword clatter to the ground. 23 I will scatter the Egyptians to many lands throughout the world. 24 I will strengthen the arms of Babylon’s king and put my sword in his hand. But I will break the arms of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he will lie there mortally wounded, groaning in pain. 25 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, while the arms of Pharaoh fall useless to his sides. And when I put my sword in the hand of Babylon’s king and he brings it against the land of Egypt, Egypt will know that I am the LORD . 26 I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, dispersing them throughout the earth. Then they will know that I am the LORD .”
“Wisdom from Christ comes from application and time.”
Today I helped my dad stain his fence. We were using an experimental method of which he was casually staining the fence. And by casual, I mean it was less than perfect. When I asked him why, he said it was ‘good enough’ and when the fence dries, it’ll look great. And, a second coat would fix it in the end. Now, as a child, my father instilled within me the importance of great work and doing the job well. So to see him change his stance was surprising to, say the least. Perplexed, I picked up the brush and began working. After a while, I realized that the evolution of my dad’s method reminded me of the old testament and new.
In the beginning, we had laws and rigid practices. Just like perfect behavior, it was unattainable. When Jesus came onto the scene and died for our sins, God gave us our second chance. Now, we are required to accept salvation. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to show up. What a profound gift! Christ gets us to the finish line, not our deeds. As I worked on the fence, I had to laugh at myself and the strange behaviors of man. We tend to get stuck in performative actions, trying to achieve perfection, whether it’s in our jobs, our looks, our family, etc. The truth is, perfection is impossible. I’ve observed that if you walk with God as you age, you begin to see His wisdom at work, allowing you to lighten up and accept his gift. When you allow God to give you the ‘second coat’ of salvation, your efforts become more humble, honest, and intentional.
Are you aged in Christ-like wisdom or in man-driven pride?
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1 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, how does a grapevine compare to a tree? Is a vine’s wood as useful as the wood of a tree? 3 Can its wood be used for making things, like pegs to hang up pots and pans? 4 No, it can only be used for fuel, and even as fuel, it burns too quickly. 5 Vines are useless both before and after being put into the fire! 6 “And this is what the Sovereign LORD says: The people of Jerusalem are like grapevines growing among the trees of the forest. Since they are useless, I have thrown them on the fire to be burned. 7 And I will see to it that if they escape from one fire, they will fall into another. When I turn against them, you will know that I am the LORD . 8 And I will make the land desolate because my people have been unfaithful to me. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
“Progress in your walk with God requires continuity.”
If you truly want to have a deep relationship with God, get comfortable with an adventure that spans a lifetime. That means we have to dislodge the idea that there is a destination to be reached. God isn’t dropping breadcrumbs waiting for you to find Him. He’s here now, but you have to actively seek him.
Admittedly, I love comfort. Even still, I can’t stand to stay in neutral. Our flesh and our spirit are quite similar. Our flash craves the carnal pleasures of instant gratification. Our spirit, however, desires to draw closer with Christ. So, we must pick up our crosses and continue with our progress. While it may feel uncomfortable, there is nothing more peaceful and fulfilling than hanging out with God Himself.
How’s your progress?
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1 Then some of the leaders of Israel visited me, and while they were sitting with me, 2 this message came to me from the LORD : 3 “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests? 4 Tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The people of Israel have set up idols in their hearts and fallen into sin, and then they go to a prophet asking for a message. So I, the LORD, will give them the kind of answer their great idolatry deserves. 5 I will do this to capture the minds and hearts of all my people who have turned from me to worship their detestable idols.’ 6 “Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. 7 I, the LORD, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. 8 I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD . 9 “‘And if a prophet is deceived into giving a message, it is because I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet. I will lift my fist against such prophets and cut them off from the community of Israel. 10 False prophets and those who seek their guidance will all be punished for their sins. 11 In this way, the people of Israel will learn not to stray from me, polluting themselves with sin. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!’” 12 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 13 “Son of man, suppose the people of a country were to sin against me, and I lifted my fist to crush them, cutting off their food supply and sending a famine to destroy both people and animals. 14 Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, their righteousness would save no one but themselves, says the Sovereign LORD . 15 “Or suppose I were to send wild animals to invade the country, kill the people, and make the land too desolate and dangerous to pass through. 16 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, even if those three men were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be made desolate. 17 “Or suppose I were to bring war against the land, and I sent enemy armies to destroy both people and animals. 18 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, even if those three men were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved. 19 “Or suppose I were to pour out my fury by sending an epidemic into the land, and the disease killed people and animals alike. 20 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved by their righteousness. 21 “Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How terrible it will be when all four of these dreadful punishments fall upon Jerusalem—war, famine, wild animals, and disease—destroying all her people and animals. 22 Yet there will be survivors, and they will come here to join you as exiles in Babylon. You will see with your own eyes how wicked they are, and then you will feel better about what I have done to Jerusalem. 23 When you meet them and see their behavior, you will understand that these things are not being done to Israel without cause. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
“Building a relationship with God is a worthy labor that pays more dividends than all of the stocks combined.”
When God is the priority in your life, your path becomes clearer as you work to get your affairs in order. Because He knows all and you’ve done the work to connect with the Holy Spirit, your footsteps are directed to the objectives God has for you.
Building that relationship is a labor because we all have a choice. We must deny our flesh-driven desires, turn our eyes above, and work to know our maker. Friends, that is a daily labor as we are painfully human and require consistent and continuous effort to do what is right. Thank God for forgiveness and everlasting love.
To know God is to know Truth and the world goes against that truth. The world will lead you on a carnal path destined for destruction. Spending time with God allows you to discern the real from the fake; Good from evil. Learn to find joy in walking with Christ as He delights in those who seek Him.
Are you doing the labor to know God?
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1 Then the LORD thundered, “Bring on the men appointed to punish the city! Tell them to bring their weapons with them!” 2 Six men soon appeared from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen, who carried a writer’s case at his side. They all went into the Temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the LORD called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case. 4 He said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” 5 Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! 6 Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. 7 “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with corpses. Go!” So they went and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were out killing, I was all alone. I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign LORD ! Will your fury against Jerusalem wipe out everyone left in Israel?” 9 Then he said to me, “The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very, very great. The entire land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, ‘The LORD doesn’t see it! The LORD has abandoned the land!’ 10 So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done.” 11 Then the man in linen clothing, who carried the writer’s case, reported back and said, “I have done as you commanded.”