Ezekiel 33:1-9

Do you trust in Jesus to forgive and save you? Great! But what about everyone else–are you doing your job, your duty, your commission towards them? Because if we claim we love Him–if we’re really His–God has automatically and by default assigned us the responsibility of being His standard-bearer–speaking out for what God says; for what is true and right and good–whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not.

If we don’t, God holds us guilty–because we can’t simply curl up bolted inside the safety of Jesus Christ and ignore the ignorance, clamor, pain, and ultimately death outside!

“Once again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man [human being, basically], give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’

“Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel‬ ‭33:1-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Today’s verses are from the Old Testament book of Exekiel, a prophet–a man God selected to speak what He told him to His nation, Israel. Sounds great, right? Not really.

I think being a prophet had to be one of the most difficult assignments God ever gave anyone. The point is that what God told Ezekiel (and the other prophets He chose at various points to speak His messages) was almost always not what people wanted to hear, and it did not endear the prophets to them.

They wanted to hear, “Hey guys, you’re doing great; I love you so much I’m going to bless you and cause you to become prosperous beyond your wildest dreams!” What they got was, “You’re sinning, people; start paying attention to me or seriously, I’m going to destroy you.” Not a happy message, and certainly not one for which they would welcome the messenger.

This effectively made God’s prophets hated, if not outcast. They rained on the parade and spoiled the fun. They gave a depressing, sad message–a message no one wanted to hear. And you know the hardest part–they couldn’t do differently! Because it wasn’t their message; because these were God’s words–they couldn’t change it, without risk of God’s judgment on them! They could never be popular or liked or accepted or loved. How does this apply to us today?

Well, because if we’re Jesus Christ’s, we’re His prophets today–His messengers, His voice, those who are assigned the unenviable task of speaking a difficult and unwelcome message for which most will almost certainly hate us.

Yes, there’s the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t physically speak–someone has to actually preach it! Of course, if you sit down and read it, God’s Word never fails to accomplish everything God intended it to, but how many today sit down and read it?? How many take the time to search for God? No. God has assigned us who know Him–His holiness, His goodness–the task of being His standard-bearer; of speaking up for what He says. It isn’t all right and good and basically irrelevant–some things are really, really wrong. We must teach and preach what God says, even if we aren’t loved for it.

So what do we do? Just imagine you’re a city’s watchman tasked with sounding a warning when there is danger. So when you see danger–sound that warning! Don’t keep quiet, hoping it’ll go away, hoping it’ll end up okay. If anything happens to someone, God will hold us accountable that we didn’t warn them! Conversely, once we do warn them, if they choose to ignore the warning it’ll be very bad for them, but God will no longer hold us accountable for not passing His message along.

This means that the Christian voices we hear are heroes–the Franklin Grahams and others; the ones who are willing to be maligned by culture and ill-spoken of rather than judged by God for not sounding an alarm.

Want popularity? Don’t become a Christian. Because if you’re faithful, the rest of the world probably won’t like you too much.

Dear Jesus,

Help me do all things through You, who strengthen me! Amen.

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Hebrews 12:14-17

Are you irreligious? Are you an opponent of religion? Are you rejecting–actively and intentionally, or simply through neglect because you don’t recognize how valuable it is–the birthright God gave you by virtue of the faith your parents or others in your life tried to pass onto you, in favor of teachings that aren’t real teachings, and beliefs that are opposed and hostile to the God who made you? Please don’t!

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Jesus Christ). See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Verses like this one in the letter to the Hebrew Christians are long and full of meaning, and deserve to be pulled apart and properly understood. So, what are we to strive for? What are we to do our absolute best to obtain?

Well, for starters, peace with everyone. This one’s easy to understand but difficult to accomplish. We aren’t to be argumentative, which is difficult in practice–especially when you “know” you’re right about something and the other person isn’t–yet we’re commanded to do it.

We’re also to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (this word refers to Jesus when we see it in the New Testament). This is huge! Without holiness we won’t see Jesus! When? Where? How? Obviously at the judgment; God is holy, and without holiness we cannot fellowship with Him. But we are unholy, so it’s a conundrum.

The answer is Jesus (yes, just like the joke going around on the internet, that Jesus is the answer to every question). We gain the holiness of Jesus when we submit to His authority as God, and trust that because of Him the Father forgives us. It’s called repentance–it’s believing what God says about our condition; it’s trusting in Christ and intentionally turning away from any sin we are aware of in our lives.

When we’ve repented and are forgiven, we’ll also see Jesus NOW. Not through some kind of strange vivid imaginations of Him, but through His Spirit that He places in us at the moment we submit to Him and believe. At that moment, we are no longer alone in this life; it’s no longer me against the world–it’s now “Christ in me, the hope of (His) glory.”

Without Him we’re forever lonely, vainly looking for that perfect person to complete us and cause us to no longer be alone, not realizing that even if we do find the MOST perfect person in existence, they can never fully complete us–that without Jesus in us, we will still be lonely!

With Jesus, even if we have no human with whom to share our existence, we have the consolation of Jesus in us–His Spirit who comforts us in a way no human ever could, and helps us continue onward to face the next day and accomplish every good thing He prepared for us to do during our life! So, we are to strive for peace with others, and the holiness of Christ. What are we to avoid?

We are to be very careful that none of us fails to obtain the grace of God. What on earth does this mean? How would we fail to get God’s grace? Well, by not believing genuinely enough–not enough to fully repent; by failing to reject the sin in our life. By turning away from and rejecting God’s grace–the forgiveness and acceptance and fellowship with Him He is offering us through Jesus’ death and resurrection! What else?

We are to make sure no “root of bitterness” springs up. Bitterness is insidious; it alienates us from God because it’s us refusing to let go and forgive. God forgives us; we have to “let go and let God” where forgiveness is concerned–we have to place it in His hands when we feels offenses are too deep and grave to forgive, and He will give us the ability to do so. We can’t hold on to the offenses if we truly trust in Jesus; we have to believe that He will make everything right, and forgive those who have sinned against us. What else?

We cannot be sexually immoral. In this day and age it’s all around us. In movies and TV series, in our neighbors and classmates, relatives, politicians, celebrities–immorality is everywhere. But just because some, or even many, are doing it doesn’t mean we’re free to–we cannot. What else?

Lastly, we’re not to be like Esau, who sold his birthright for a moment of pleasure. What does that mean–how does this apply to us? Well, the point of this example is that he did not value what he had been given–what was his. He valued it so little, in fact, that he traded it away for a bowl of food. Later, we’re told, he realized how terrible that had been and wanted it, but there was no way to gain it back–there was no way to “repent;” it had been given away and it was no longer his. What does this mean to us?

I think the moral of this lesson is to not value Christ too lightly; to not scorn Him or think too little of Him. Those of us who had Christian parents especially run the risk of this–it’s so common and familiar, we’ve heard it so often, that we tend to sometimes not recognize Jesus Christ for the priceless treasure He genuinely is!

Not everyone has Jesus Christ. Countless people trudge through life alone, stumbling, sinning, doing as seems right to them, sometimes seeming to do better and sometimes worse, but ultimately making a mess of things–and at the end not knowing how, exactly, they got there.

This shouldn’t be us, however, because we know better; we’ve been taught, we’ve been taken to church, had the Bible read to us, heard sermons and messages. We know–but do we value Jesus Christ sufficiently? Do we recognize that He is the difference between miserably lonely and not alone; between wrong and right; between alienated from God and in sin, and right with Him and peace; ultimately between death and life??

So, are you irreligious, or an opponent of religion? Don’t be, because repentance is a privilege we shouldn’t assume we will forever have extended to us; at some point it may be take away. That’s why we are gravely warned to take Him seriously:

“Therefore, since the promise that we can enter into rest is still open, let’s be careful so that none of you will appear to miss it. We also had the good news preached to us, just as the Israelites did. However, the message they heard didn’t help them because they weren’t united in faith with the ones who listened to it. We who have faith are entering the rest…God designates a certain day as “today,” when he says through David much later, ‘Today, if you hear his voice,’ ‘don’t have stubborn hearts.'” (Hebrews‬ ‭4:1-3, 7‬ ‭CEB‬‬)

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Heal me; forgive me; accept me. Amen.

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Ezekiel 13:5-7

Do you teach a Bible study? How about a Sunday School class? Maybe you’re a teacher, a pastor, even a missionary? Or do you just teach your children, or occasionally speak truth to a coworker or neighbor or friend? Regardless of whom you influence, do you proclaim God’s eternal message to humankind–our need to repent and trust in Christ? Do you warn them about God’s “wrath [against unrepentant sin] that is to come?” (1 Thessalonians 1:10) Or do you say just what they want to hear, because you don’t want them to stop liking you, or because you’re afraid?

“They don’t warn the people about coming trouble or tell them how dangerous it is to sin against Me. Those prophets lie by claiming they speak for Me, but I have not even chosen them to be My prophets. And they still think their words will come true. They say they’re preaching My messages, but they are full of lies—I did not speak to them!” (Ezekiel‬ ‭13:5-7‬ ‭CEV‬‬)

I wonder how many of us still read the Old Testament–not just Genesis and Exodus, or Psalms or Proverbs, but all of it? Remember what Paul taught? “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” (Romans‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NCV‬‬) Those accounts of others who came before us were recorded to warn us to not act as they did, so we don’t have to suffer like they did!

Take a look at today’s verse. This is God’s condemnation of Israel’s “false” prophets–individuals who presented themselves to the people as declarers of God’s truth, who failed to declare God’s truth. That’s why they were false! And how did they fail to declare it? Because they did not “warn the people about coming trouble;” because they did not “tell them how dangerous it is to sin against Me [God].”

It IS dangerous to sin against God, to live our lives doing “what…[is] right in…[our] own eyes.” (Judges‬ ‭17:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) because our judgment is flawed; because “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah‬ ‭17:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

You see, the problem is that our decision-making ability is flawed where holiness–issues of right and wrong–is concerned. Even if we do what seems right–what we genuinely believe the right thing to do–we can end up horribly wrong if we’ve not lined up our opinion of right with what God says is right.

God doesn’t have that problem. He’s not affected by sin, so His decision making ability isn’t skewed, like ours is–and that’s why we can trust Him when He says, “this is wrong; don’t do it.”

That’s the message we need to pass on to those around us, those with whom we interact. God’s condemnation of those prophets was that they told the people what they wanted to hear, instead of what they needed to hear. Do we tell people what they need to hear–that it is dangerous to sin against God?

Another prophet to the Israelites, Jeremiah, got dumped in a well by a mob enraged by this message; many others have been killed because of it. You may certainly become less popular; it’s no fun to be someone’s constant reminder that they aren’t living the way they should.

The disciples must have thought about this too, because Jesus warned them what to expect:

“A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect? Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” (Matthew‬ ‭10:24-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

This is what God asks of us; what He expects and demands of His people. It’s the sacrifice we make when we choose to follow Christ–the cross we pick up and carry. Remember that carrying the cross wasn’t a pleasant road for Jesus; it was a path of insult and injury and shame. Dare we expect any less?

Dear Jesus,

Help me not be afraid or ashamed to tell people what they need to hear. Amen.

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I Corinthians 10:13

So you’re scared? That’s okay; everyone’s afraid. You’ve got challenges that push you out of your comfort zone, issues you never had before, problems that require a level of mental creativity and emotional maturity—not to mention physical stamina—you’re not sure you have? Well, guess what? You’re not the only one; we all do. And what’s more, not only will you get through it; you can come out stronger on the other side!

One of the most limiting assumptions I can ever make is that I’m the only one going through this; I’m so unique, so special, that no one else has ever experienced whatever it is that’s happening to me now. This is a lie, and if you’re open to what God tells us in the Bible, here it is:
“No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭CEB‬‬)
This refers specifically to temptations—situations in which there is a right or wrong decision to be made—but I honestly believe we can extrapolate it to most of life’s experiences, because we’re all human. We’re all scared at times; each of us goes through experiences that intimidate and challenge us to rise to a higher level to successfully navigate…it’s our plight as humans, and in some way, it’s strangely reassuring. 
We all lose loved ones; we get sick, are in accidents, experience pain. We gain new family members through birth, or the blending of families, or marriage. We go to new schools; have new classes, new teachers. We change or lose jobs. We struggle financially. We move, face new challenges, deal with new issues. We find jobs and change career paths. And through it all, we deal with it—somehow.
Those of us who believe in God—who trust in Jesus Christ—pray; I highly recommend that, because He honors it when we look to Him. Inside of us—mentally, emotionally, spiritually—He supernaturally reassures and strengthens us so we can navigate through the scary times with less stress—with faith that’s He’s got it covered. Very often, though, He also actively alters external circumstances to make things better.  Don’t believe me; think I’m looking for God where He doesn’t exist? Okay, how about this?
My husband recently lost his job. He was having a hard time at work—he felt it; you know, the stress you sense when things aren’t going great—but we were still surprised when it happened (it never feels real for a while; it takes time to process).
Normally we would’ve panicked; I would’ve been terrified because of the financial implications. We’ve got our youngest daughter in an expensive private school and her recent college-grad sister is still looking for a position. We’ve got two vacant units at our properties, and a huge tax bill is looming ahead. But this time I’m not scared—at least not yet. Why?
Because God proactively provided for this exact moment in our lives ahead of time! My husband had acreage up in Michigan that he had been trying to sell for quite a while that he just closed on a week or two earlier; as a matter of fact, he had just gotten the funds! He thought he was going to use it as a down payment for a new truck (even though we all have good vehicles); God knew differently.
If you don’t believe in God, of course, you’re relegated to finding another plausible explanation for otherwise inexplicable and obvious ”coincidences” like this, but that gets to a point where it’s more absurd than to just give credit where credit is due. Honestly—it’s almost like Bobby’s ghost in the series Supernatural, moving things around just so Sam and Dean realize he’s there!
But what if you don’t believe in God? What if you think it’s all a lot of hooey, just like Supernatural itself? Or you’ve pushed Him out of your life; convinced yourself He’s superstition, archaic, irrelevant? Bought into the zeitgeist of the time? Then you’re on your own. Remember the promise, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬)? The promise is only for those who love God (and if you love God, it’s a given that you’re also called according to His purposes); if you don’t love Him, He’s no longer causing everything to work together for your good.
Please let that scare you. Look at your life. Notice the things that “didn’t work out…” Yes, you can still derive some comfort from the fact we’re all going through this misery together, but in the end, does it help that much? Community is generally comforting, but this is like being on a sinking ship. Wouldn’t you rather have someone get you off, than sink with those who won’t come with?
Dear God,

You know life is scary. Thank You that You are faithful and help us through it when we come to You—when we stop pushing You away, agree with You, commit ourselves to You and trust completely in You. Amen.

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Exodus 15:1-2

Have you ever seen God work powerfully in your life? Has He ever done something for you that genuinely convinced you He’s absolutely real? We’re all different, so what might convince me may not convince you–but that’s okay, because He knows exactly what it is that will prove His existence and power to each and every one of us–and He graciously meets us at our point of need!

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!'” (Exodus‬ ‭15:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

God may not have hurled the enemy’s horse and riders into the sea for you as He did for the fleeing Israelites quoted above, but we all have something that proves to each of us–that convinces us of–God’s magnificence, and that is what He, in His infinite mercy, does for those who trust in Him: He strengthens our faith, especially when we ask.

He is not obligated to. In fact, we are taught not to provoke God–to not test Him. We mustn’t set up circumstances–hoops for Him to figuratively jump through–to convince us He is real. Yet when we trust in Him, He helps us trust Him even more.

How? Through whatever way will help you believe more! It may certainly be physical deliverance like it was for the Israelites; it may be healing, or an answer to prayer–a job, perhaps, or grade, or whatever else will convince you. For me it’s getting protection plan sales. I sell, and my job is dependent, at least in part, on how many protection plans I sell. So I’ve actually started asking God for success in this area. I know–“you’re just getting better at selling them,” you might say; but who helps me get better? And curiously, I’ve noticed that when I believe He’s going to help me, I sell; when I start doubting–like when Peter was walking on the water, and got scared and doubted Jesus–I start messing up. It’s not my faith in my ability to sell that gives me sales; it’s my faith in the provision and graciousness of God!

Yet this is not a side show or curiosity. God works miracles–even the quiet ones no one else might realize are miracles–for the specific purpose of helping believe. Remember Herod’s excitement at having Jesus brought to him? How he had heard the amazing things Jesus had done and was hoping to finally witness something himself–yet got nothing? God performs miracles if they will help us believe; if they would be merely a curiosity and not lead us to repentance or greater faith, we get nothing, because they would be wasted on us.

Remember Jesus admonition “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew‬ ‭7:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬)? It’s the same principle This is why there are so few miracles reported here in the modern world. I am totally convinced God does still work miracles–just not for those for whom they would be meaningless. He saves His works–His miracles–for those whose faith will be strengthened by them.

Dear Lord God,

Thank You that You care about us and are gracious to strengthen our faith. Thank You that You are, indeed, a God of power and night and that nothing is too difficult for You, as You declare in Your Word, the Bible! Amen.

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Isaiah 53:2

Have you ever tried to imagine what Christians gathered for a worship service look like to a visitor who really doesn’t believe in God; who doesn’t think He exists? Merely a ragamuffin group of relatively unimpressive people singing songs, praying, sitting and listening to someone talk–sometimes, not necessarily always, eloquently–in their little (or not-so-little) groups? There’s nothing here to impress anyone–it certainly doesn’t have either the sophistication of academia or opulence of business. It’s certainly no Apple phone launch or TedTalk. To the contrary and in contrast, we must seem genuinely strange to someone observing us from a mindset that believes God’s not real. Yet superficial impressions can be deceiving.

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah‬ ‭53:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

This prophecy found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah confirms that even Jesus wasn’t visually distinctive–there is no Biblical reference to an extraordinary physical appearance; no record of someone ever saying, “Wow! He looks exactly like I imagined God become a human would!” Yet what He did was miraculous, and what He still does in those who trust Him is equally extraordinary, because it is nothing short of that which is otherwise humanly impossible.

What’s spectacular about God’s followers is not our appearance (although knowing Christ does tend to soften our appearance–we are not look hateful or angry or bitter as others, who are habitually tormented by those emotions). What’s spectacular about Christians, rather, is the miracle Jesus has and continues to accomplish in our lives–the “killing off” of our old self (or old man, as some versions of the Bible call it).

That’s a harsh term, so before you panic and say you don’t want your “self”–old or otherwise–killed off, let me explain that I’m not referring to anything that’s really truly “us”; that what Jesus “kills off”–help us overcome in ourselves–is our selfishness, our unquenchable tendency toward self-centeredness. It’s that miserable quality all of us are born with to be concerned primarily with me, myself, and I; to only look to how any particular decision or circumstance affects or benefits me. I understand the argument that this is a survival technique; that we’d die off the planet if we stopped caring about our own well being, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Jesus doesn’t take away our concern for our well being; He gives us the power to say “no” to ourselves to benefit another.

Before you dismiss this as relatively insignificant, let me point out that a life of selflessness is an impossible feat without the activity of God in us through His Spirit, because it goes completely contrary to human nature. I challenge you, in fact, to find even one instance where a person who has rejected Christ has consistently done this–especially in matters where it “hurts;” where the metal hits the road; where it hits too close to home; in respect to things they care about much. You won’t be able to, because without God it simply doesn’t happen on an ongoing basis.

The fact is that it is Christ only–through His Spirit working in us–who empowers us to be able deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Because that’s what selflessness is. It’s denying what I want, in favor of what benefits another.

It’s why people become missionaries–why they suffer hardship for the purpose of spreading the message of forgiveness through Jesus as He commanded His people to do. It’s why others, in countries hostile to Christianity, who convert to Christ–who believe the message–are martyred for their faith rather than deny Him. And it’s why we continue to meet in our little–or not so little–groups, to worship and corporately talk to, and be taught more about God.

So even if our meetings are not opulent or superficially impressive, we worship Someone who is most impressive–the One who is able to accomplish in us that which no amount of money can–a new heart and life!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me above all to, “Gain You, and be found in You,” because You are most precious above everything! Amen.

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I Timothy 4:4

God provides. We know that; we believe it. But I wonder how many of us realize exactly how fully and generously He provides–not just (or even necessarily) financially, but in terms of the natural world He created all around us for our benefit?

“For everything God created is good…” (I Timothy 4:4)

I’m a child of the late 20th Century; it was in my lifetime that processed foods came out–and we loved it because with all the added sugars and flavorings, our taste buds began to prefer them over the more simple tastes found in nature. Pharmaceutical companies concocted newer and more amazing drugs; the beauty industry produced an ever-increasing array of products to make us beautiful and keep us from aging.

None of this is necessarily bad, mind you, and there are cases it may be essential (if I’m having a heart attack, for example, I definitely want the benefit of the most potent life-saving medicines and procedures out there!). Yet as we embraced various products created in a lab, our collective consciousness seems to have forgotten the amazing benefits of what God has already provided for us naturally in the created world around us! Like what, you ask?

Well, like the idea that health is derived primarily, if not exclusively, from what we consume (or fail to consume in the case of things hurtful to our well-being). This includes eating raw organic veggies, fruit and herbs, whole grains, (some will disagree but in my opinion, raw) milk and milk products, pasture fed meats, free range eggs, apple cider vinegar, legumes, seeds, nuts, raw honey, chocolate nibs, garlic, etc.

But besides eating these foods, did you realize that God imbued many of them with healing and rejuvenating properties that can also be used topically externally? My mother taught me to never waste cucumber skin peels but rub them on my face as a beauty treatment, and there are so many other foods that can help our bodies heal and thrive in this way. Granted, they don’t have the heavy perfumes manufactured products do, and some of them can smell peculiar or even unpleasant (think of papaya or garlic), but they really truly do good things for us if we are not condescending towards using them!

A raw lemon, for example, can fade dark spots and lighten and brighten your complexion. Garlic has antibacterial properties, and because a bad complexion is frequently the result of inflammation, rubbing it on your face can actually tone your skin down and make you look prettier! Cod liver oil consumed internally is highly effective to moderate and lower blood pressure (work with your doctor)–I’ve used it for years and am still not on any other medication at fifty-seven; apple cider vinegar mixed with water can help alleviate ear infections.

There are countless other remedies that common foods around us provide, in terms of beauty, health, longevity, and even cure, but you have to do the research and try it yourself. There are things I’ve tried that haven’t done what I hoped they would, or not well enough. But there are others that I’ve been amazed about–about which I’ve really had a “who knew?!” moment!

My point is simply that even though God has given mankind the ability and knowledge to produce amazing products in a lab, He has also already given us many items naturally that do the same or better, for our skin especially–but we’ve lost the knowledge that they’re there, or don’t believe they’re as good if they’re not expensively scented, beautifully packaged and cost upwards of $100.

Remember that God is kind–and He provides for His own. Sometimes this comes in the form of a higher paycheck, but many times it’s Him giving us wisdom; opening our eyes to what’s already available or inexpensive to obtain–and we shouldn’t scorn His provision. If our goal is to feel wealthy and opulent, that lemon or raw honey or garlic rubbed on our face probably won’t do it. But if what we really want is the result, then consistent use, coupled with an improved wholesome diet, will actually give us benefits some pay significantly more for. God does love us, and He has provided!

Dear Lord God,

Thank You for Your provision. Open my eyes to see everything good that is readily available for my use, and help me benefit from it! Amen.

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