“You can have your cake and eat it too, just don’t be foolish enough to disregard the terms and conditions.”~TB
It’s human nature to be selfish and we live in a world that supports that kind of mentality. Everyone wants to gorge themselves on the cake, but no one wants to take responsibility for the calories. More specifically, everyone wants to be their best version of a heathen, but no one wants to acknowledge their connection to God. So they ignore Him and those who warn them of their waywardness. If you think trivializing God changes your fate, welp, you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Discipline breeds results and nothing worth achieving comes easy. Seeking the Lord requires you to spit out the ‘cake’ that the world serves you. Sure, it’ll be tough in the beginning, but the relationship that discipline brings tastes sweeter than any confectionary delight. Indulge in God and He will take delight in you. Ignore God and don’t expect Him to vouch for you. You can’t have it both ways; you either know God or you won’t. But don’t lie to yourself come judgment day about the discipline you never enacted because you’d rather eat cake.
Are you developing discipline or are you on the road to being disciplined?
1“In that day,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.
2This is what the LORD says: “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”
3Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
4I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines.
5Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.
6The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD our God.’”
7Now this is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Israel. Shout for the greatest of nations! Shout out with praise and joy: ‘Save your people, O LORD, the remnant of Israel!’
8For I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth. I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women in labor. A great company will return!
9Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
10“Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock.
11For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them.
12They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the LORD ’s good gifts— the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.
13The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
14The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
15This is what the LORD says: “A cry is heard in Ramah— deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted— for her children are gone.”
16But now this is what the LORD says: “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the LORD . “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy.
17There is hope for your future,” says the LORD . “Your children will come again to their own land.
18I have heard Israel saying, ‘You disciplined me severely, like a calf that needs training for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the LORD my God.
19I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’
20“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the LORD . “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.
21Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here.
22How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new to happen— Israel will embrace her God. ”
23This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The LORD bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’
24Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness.
25For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”
26At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.
27“The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah.
28In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the LORD, have spoken!
29“The people will no longer quote this proverb: ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’
30All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.
31“The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.
32This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD .
33“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the LORD . “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the LORD .’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the LORD . “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
35It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:
36“I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
37This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!
38“The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when all Jerusalem will be rebuilt for me, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
39A measuring line will be stretched out over the hill of Gareb and across to Goah.
40And the entire area—including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the Horse Gate—will be holy to the LORD . The city will never again be captured or destroyed.”
“Quiet reflection with God breeds thoughtful answers to the issues in your life.”~TB
One of the biggest struggles we face as humans in society is quieting the external noise to understand what is going on internally. The world as we know it is designed to put us in conflict with our natural state. Think about it, with so much external distraction and noise, your internal system functions like a jumbled cassette tape. It’s tough to sort through the chaos of our internal state unless we quiet the noise from outside. However, many of us are engaged in chaotic states because we are too scared of the quiet. Slowing down and taking stock of one’s life brings up some uncomfortable insights and the ugly “g-word”–growth.
If the chaos has grown too much and it’s time to get to the heart of the Truth, have a talk with God (which also happens to be the title of a neat Stevie Wonder song.) Honest answers come from an honest reflection and conversation with our Father in Heaven. It doesn’t have to be some dramatic or formal process, just ask a few simple questions and ask for direction. To get the most out of this reflection and quiet time with God honesty and humility are key. It requires us to set aside our foolish and flesh-minded thinking. Basically, we have to turn our backs on what ails us to receive the Holy antidote that is God’s wisdom. It’s a one-on-one conversation that only you and He can have. No preacher, teacher nor profit can do this for you, so steal away to a quiet place to reflect and chat with the one who calls you His.
Are you practicing quiet reflection or are you running amok?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you.
2Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message.
3Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!
4“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children.
5They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!
6So beware, for the time is coming, says the LORD, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
7“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals.
8I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there.
9I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’
10“As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought.
11Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them.
12This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the LORD . I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth.
13Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”
14Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the LORD . He said to the people there,
15“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”
“No matter where you go or what you’ll go through, you will always be there.”~TB
Everyone at some point in their life has had a deep-seated “if only” mindset and the world supports that type of thinking. “If only I had more money or if only I had that car/job/spouse/house, andthen everything would be perfect and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about,” etc. We often erroneously believe that once a situation changes, then poof we magically change right along with it. This idea of and then is very misleading because it does not take Spoiler alert: no matter what circumstance you are in, the only thing that is always a constant is you.
So even if you received all of your heart’s desires, things may change externally, but internally, the same things remain. Therefore, we must ask God to changes our hearts and minds; and we must change our behaviors to realize God’s peace and contentment. True peace and contentment are counterintuitive to the world’s standards. The world teaches us that we are to consume, consume, consume. However, those who know God understand it’s He who sets all things in motion. For us to get out of our and then mindsets, we have to understand the present presence of God’s peace. When we focus on Christ, we count all circumstances as joy and then our priorities are aligned with His.
Are you letting “and then” stall your growth in Christ?
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1“The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron chisel— engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts and on the corners of their altars.
2Even their children go to worship at their pagan altars and Asherah poles, beneath every green tree and on every high hill.
3So I will hand over my holy mountain— along with all your wealth and treasures and your pagan shrines— as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land.
4The wonderful possession I have reserved for you will slip from your hands. I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD .
6They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
7“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
8They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
9“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
10But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
11Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools.
12But we worship at your throne— eternal, high, and glorious!
13O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the LORD, the fountain of living water.
14O LORD, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!
15People scoff at me and say, “What is this ‘message from the LORD ’ you talk about? Why don’t your predictions come true?”
16LORD, I have not abandoned my job as a shepherd for your people. I have not urged you to send disaster. You have heard everything I’ve said.
17LORD, don’t terrorize me! You alone are my hope in the day of disaster.
18Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me, but don’t let me experience shame and dismay. Bring a day of terror on them. Yes, bring double destruction upon them!
19This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and stand in the gates of Jerusalem, first in the gate where the king goes in and out, and then in each of the other gates.
20Say to all the people, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and all you people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem.
21This is what the LORD says: Listen to my warning! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day.
22Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors,
23but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or accept my discipline.
24“‘But if you obey me, says the LORD, and do not carry on your trade at the gates or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy,
25then kings and their officials will go in and out of these gates forever. There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. Kings and their officials will always ride in and out among the people of Judah in chariots and on horses, and this city will remain forever.
26And from all around Jerusalem, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin, from the western foothills and the hill country and the Negev, the people will come with their burnt offerings and sacrifices. They will bring their grain offerings, frankincense, and thanksgiving offerings to the LORD ’s Temple.
27“‘But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.’”
“Do not avoid uncomfortable situations or moments. Instead, walk boldly in the truth that God is with you in all things.”~TB
The world teaches us to avoid unpleasant experiences. Human logic dictates that if the moment induces discomfort, it must be a bad thing, therefore we remove the “yucky stuff” from our lives. What an amazingly ironic and counterproductive paradigm! The problem with that ideology is that it eliminates the most vital and necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. Through the unpleasant times, we get to grow closer and know God in a more personal and one-on-one manner. In fact, it’s those uncomfortable and painful moments where we grow the most. That is if we take them as they are and not as we perceive them to be.
When I was a kid in elementary school, we’d have the opportunity to participate in an art class. Some of the projects included working with clay, making different sorts of things. I loved it. Being able to mold and shape things– essentially making something out of nothing– is something I love. My favorite part was seeing my work after it was fired in the kiln. For those that don’t know, a kiln is a heating chamber that transforms materials in high temperatures. When the clay is heated properly, it is then ready to be turned into a vessel. If you’ve ever worked clay, you’ve seen firsthand how a slippery and malleable substance is transformed into a sturdy and utilitarian product. God is the Kiln to our clay.
In order to be the vessel that God has called you to be, you must learn to reexamine your mind about the kiln process. Trials and tribulations are the firey elements that shore up your vessel. Without them, you remain mushy and unsustainable. When you avoid the molding and kiln of God, your ability to rise to the calling on your life is impossible. Don’t avoid the process, but trust that all things in your life are used to strengthen your relationship with God. Let the Bible mold you and your time with God be the fire that hardens the clay. In doing so, we see as God intended us to see. When that happens, we walk in the way that God called us to.
Are you going through the kiln or do you want to remain mushy and broken?
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1“In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem.
2They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure.
3And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
4“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around.
6I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD ’s laws.
8“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD . Are they so wise after all?
10I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds.
11They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
12Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD .
13I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone. I, the LORD, have spoken!’
14“Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the LORD our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the LORD .
15We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16“The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it— cities and people alike.
17I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
18My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken.
19Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem? ” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?” “Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” says the LORD .
20“The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!”
21I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?
“Hanging out with God is like getting honest and objective feedback from someone who ultimately has your best interest in mind. Listen well.”~TB
It Starts With
I’m a big believer in demystifying the practice of building a relationship with God. For some reason, people make it out to be some big ritualistic practice that only ‘certain’ people can do, when in reality, everyone can talk to God. More to the point, the more you talk and listen, you too can get His feedback on your life and what it means to truly be His. It starts with you asking to hear from Him. Literally, that’s it. If you have the honest and earnest desire to hear from God, then ask.
It’s Not Like
After observing people, I find that one of the biggest disconnects with building that relationship comes from not understanding who God is. We, humans, have a distorted belief that we are our own leaders, makers, etc. So if you’re trying to come to God to dictate to Him how your life should be, man, you’re going to continuously bump your head on a wall. Trust, I’m saying this from experience. My point in saying all this is, to know God is to understand that He is our Creator. This means He ultimately knows you better than you know yourself.
When you do the work and build that connection with Christ, His feedback will radically change how you see the world. The fads, the trends, the need for approval from broken people disappear– if you allow it. Because the world jams up our Holy Frequency of which God communicates by, we must unlearn our worldly practices to synthesize the feedback from God. So to sum it up, come to Him with an honest heart. Be humble and learn to submit to His sovereignty. Listen and learn from what you hear. When you’re able to see the world for what it actually is, God’s feedback is easier to understand and implement.
Who are you listening to, God or the world?
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1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.
3In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
4Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel!
5This is what the LORD says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.
6They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’
7“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD ?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols.
9Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the LORD . “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.
10“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus ; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this?
11Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!
12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the LORD .
13“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
14“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore.
16Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the LORD your God, even though he was leading you on the way!
18“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the LORD your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
20“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
21But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
23“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate.
24You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them!
25When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’
26“Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this.
27To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’
28But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah.
29Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the LORD .
30“I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey.
31“O my people, listen to the words of the LORD ! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’
32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.
33“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned.
36First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before.
37In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the LORD has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.
“Be confident about how people perceive and know who you are, what you are doing, and how you serve God because they can tell if you are a fraud when they test you.” ~ Jon Barnes
Become successful at loving God and you will be spiritually and naturally rich and not an evil fraud. Money does not measure your richness with God because it is like dirt to Him. The streets of Heaven are paved with treasures unseen. Your family and the people around you will admire your faith, work ethic, and talent that God has blessed you with. People will become jealous and they will try to treat you badly for doing a good job. Count it all as Joy.
There is no need to brag about your accomplishments with serving God because it is obvious. The simplicity of obedience means the most to God and it is the foundation of your faith in Jesus. Pray that you stay connected and humble in the Love of God, with your faith, actions, words, work, and service to others. Quality Love builds confidence that you can naturally be proud of and feel good about, just like a Dad who takes good care of his kids and family. The truth always rises to the top of who you are in Christ.
I get this jolly feeling of joy when I see my children obey God’s commandments, talk about bible stories, and improve their lives. It is more joyful to see this happen with my grandchildren as well. Continue to share and reflect on these things to enjoy the lifestyle God has blessed you with. Teach the next generation by example, daily practice, and discussions with gladness and success. This way of life should be natural, unforced, and encouraged for generational transfer of wisdom, love, and understanding with good common sense, family values, ethics, morals, and discipline.
Are you happy about working for God and going to Heaven or would you rather go to hell by worshiping something else?
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Jesus, the True Vine
15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.
The World’s Hatred
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
“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.
“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 .
“If being nice means you have to subjugate the truth, then you’re not being nice; you’re lying.”~TB
Being “nice” is such a weird concept to me. It’s not “nice” to disagree even if you’re position is correct. It’s not “nice” to offend even if what you say is true. We use it as a means to not be honest. But friends, the truth is the truth, whether we want to hear it or not. And people with ulterior motives will shove “nice” down your throat to get you from seeing the truth and to accept their lies. “Nice” is circumstantial, but the Truth never changes. I’ll give you an example
5 or so years ago, when I first began freelancing, I was shucking and jiving, not doing what I needed to in order to run a successful business. I was hiding under the guise of fear and anxiety to avoid the truth: I wasn’t doing the work to make it happen. Fortunately, my mom— who’s great at seeing through my BS— sent me a compelling email calling me out on my nonsense. At first, my feelings were hurt, but then, I called a former boss and in 3 days, I had a job. Imagine that.
Honor in Telling the Truth
My mom could’ve been “nice” and just let me wallow in my stupidity. After all, that would’ve been the safest route. However, she told me a much needed truth: I needed to get off my rear and make some money to take care of myself. People who truly love you will tell you the truth, no matter the consequence. God is the same way. His Truth never changes and depending on the level of stupidity we’re into, sometimes His Truth doesn’t feel all that nice. But considering His Truth is the only Truth, I for one would rather sacrifice my pride to live in the Truth today rather than feel “nice” and suffer the consequences tomorrow. Truth is, the choice is ours to make.
Are you interested in the Truth?
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1O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.
2You turn mighty cities into heaps of ruins. Cities with strong walls are turned to rubble. Beautiful palaces in distant lands disappear and will never be rebuilt.
3Therefore, strong nations will declare your glory; ruthless nations will fear you.
4But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall,
5or like the relentless heat of the desert. But you silence the roar of foreign nations. As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat, so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.
6In Jerusalem, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.
7There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
8He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The LORD has spoken!
9In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”
10For the LORD ’s hand of blessing will rest on Jerusalem. But Moab will be crushed. It will be like straw trampled down and left to rot.
11God will push down Moab’s people as a swimmer pushes down water with his hands. He will end their pride and all their evil works.
12The high walls of Moab will be demolished. They will be brought down to the ground, down into the dust.
“Stay close to God so that you do not get unplugged from His wisdom.”~TB
If you’re not careful, life has a way of getting you off track in your relationship with Christ. Whether it’s just life circumstances, poor decisions, or the opposition rocking your boat, taking your eyes off of the Truth is a recipe for disaster. When we stop looking to God for the answers, we begin to make up answers that generally leave us worse off than before. Friends, don’t lean on your human made solutions to the challenges in your life. When we struggle to find God in the midst of our situations, it’s a sign that we’re not going to the source material— the Bible— to know the Truth.
Recognize that there are patterns and cycles in life, and no matter what, our faith and reliance in God is the only key to success! The devil may poke and prod, making you feel uneasy and alone, but when you’re plugged into God, you know the difference. This is why reading the Bible daily is so important. It’s not just a task that you check off to get a pat on the head from God. No, it possesses the tools and weapons to prepare and protect you from the world and the opposition. Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors of the evil one. Rest on the Truth of the Word to stay plugged in.
Are you plugged into Christ or plugged into chaos and uncertainty?
Enjoy the reading
Song of Solomon
1Where has your lover gone, O woman of rare beauty? Which way did he turn so we can help you find him?
2My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies.
3I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies.
4You are beautiful, my darling, like the lovely city of Tirzah. Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as majestic as an army with billowing banners.
5Turn your eyes away, for they overpower me. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
6Your teeth are as white as sheep that are freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
7Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
8Even among sixty queens and eighty concubines and countless young women,
9I would still choose my dove, my perfect one— the favorite of her mother, dearly loved by the one who bore her. The young women see her and praise her; even queens and royal concubines sing her praises:
10“Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with billowing banners?”
11I went down to the grove of walnut trees and out to the valley to see the new spring growth, to see whether the grapevines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man.
13Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam. Come back, come back, that we may see you again. Young Man Why do you stare at this young woman of Shulam, as she moves so gracefully between two lines of dancers?