“Don’t shortchange the importance of doing your Biblical homework as trick questions are difficult to answer if you haven’t practiced beforehand.”~TB
When I was in school, I seldom— if ever— did or turned in my homework or studied. I was clever enough to pass my tests and still receive somewhat decent grades in spite of my blatant disregard for homework. When I went to college, however, not turning in homework or studying was much harder to fake as the tests were more cumbersome and I couldn’t skate by as easily. I had to fail to realize how important studying and doing the homework correlated with a passing grade. As I continue my walk with God, I realize that studying and homework are even more important, as the opposition uses trick questions and fake answers to get us to stray.
The devil’s objective isn’t just about getting us to sin. It’s more to do with derailing God’s purpose for our lives. He’ll use cheap tricks and smoke and mirrors— creating seemingly lifelike problems to get you from deepening your relationship with Christ. This is where all that studying and homework come into play. When you make daily time for the Lord and when you read His teachings, the devil’s schemes are more easily discernible. But, if you don’t do the reading or know God on a deeper level, satan’s party tricks will sweep you up into a mental storm that can be difficult to overcome. If you find yourself in a pop quiz that you didn’t study for, go back to the Source Material that is the Bible.
What the devil doesn’t want you to realize is that all of these tests, trials, and tribulations are open book. Which means that at any given time, you can consult God and the Bible for the answers. Until our last breath on this Earth, we can retake tests as needed, with God lovingly showing us the way when we humble ourselves to put in the work. No test or walk is perfect. There are many times where I still fail to study, only to realize that I must do the work so that I too will not stumble. Thank God (literally) that He still loves a slacker like me and allows me to learn. So friends, learn to discipline yourselves to do your homework, study the word, and grow with God so that you spot the fake answers and pass your tests.
Are you ready to improve your study and homework methods?
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1In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD ! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me.
2See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”
3With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
4In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the LORD ! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is!
5Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world.
6Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”
“Learn to be kind and patient with one another as we all make mistakes.”~TB
I process information pretty quickly. It works in my favor most of the time, but every now and then my quick thinking leads me to jump to inaccurate conclusions. Yesterday, for example, I checked the oil dipstick to ‘inspect’ my newly changed oil and in my haste, I deemed there was no oil in my car. I immediately call the mechanic and demand them remedy the situation. Fortunately, my father— who is more experienced with cars— checked and showed me that there indeed was oil in the car. Clean oil looks drastically different than old oil, who knew! Embarrassed, I called the mechanic and apologized, owning my error and he graciously accepted it. I’m glad that he was able to bestow kindness and patience towards me, even though I was ready to read him the riot act when I thought he made a mistake. So why am I sharing this? Giving each other grace and mercy allows us to grow and learn, so that we can extend the same to the next person.
Practice the same mercy and grace that God gives us with everyone that comes into your life. Granted, that’s easier said than done, just look at the above paragraph. When we jump to conclusions, and expect the worst in people, we fail them by not giving them a chance. More to the point, we might be the ones who are wrong. Even further, how we deal with others is a direct reflection of how we deal with ourselves. If we cannot extend mercy and grace to ourselves, how can we dispense it to others? So if you are insufficient in the mercy and grace department, take cues from our Father in Heaven. Read the Word and talk with Him to model His ways. In the Bible, there are plenty examples of Jesus extending grace and mercy to those who didn’t meet perfect standards. Conversely there are many folks in there who were as unmerciful as they were imperfect. So friends, strive to walk with each other as God seeks to walk with us.
Are you walking in grace and mercy or are you quick to jump to conclusions.
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1Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
2And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD .
3He will delight in obeying the LORD . He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.
4He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
5He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.
6In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.
7The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD .
10In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
11In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to bring back the remnant of his people— those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt; in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, and Elam; in Babylonia, Hamath, and all the distant coastlands.
12He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.
13Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end. They will not be rivals anymore.
14They will join forces to swoop down on Philistia to the west. Together they will attack and plunder the nations to the east. They will occupy the lands of Edom and Moab, and Ammon will obey them.
15The LORD will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River, sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams so it can easily be crossed on foot.
16He will make a highway for the remnant of his people, the remnant coming from Assyria, just as he did for Israel long ago when they returned from Egypt.
“Be diligent in the tasks you have to complete because your reward comes from God, not man.”~TB
Exploitation of workers is nothing new and can be traced back all the way to the beginning of man. Just ask the Israelites. Today, many work for pennies on the dollar all the while employers act like you’re supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to make them richer. Fortunately, our reward does not come from our employers but from God.
Even when the scales of this world are tipped in the favor of the wicked, God will balance them for those He sees fit. Keep an honest account of your work, your habits, and how you treat your neighbors. Even when those who seek to take what you have without payment, God will repay you and then some. So when you experience unfair situations from corrupt employers, focus on your task so that God can give you a raise.
Do you know who you’re working for?
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1 What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws.
2 They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.
3What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe?
4 You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
5 “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger.
6 I am sending Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.
7 But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation.
8 He will say, ‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.
9 We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish. Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.
10 Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
11 So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’”
12 After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant.
13 He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
14 I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”
15 But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
16 Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory.
17 The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
18 The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
19 Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive— so few that a child could count them!
20 In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
22 But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant of them will return. The LORD has rightly decided to destroy his people.
23 Yes, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has already decided to destroy the entire land.
24 So this is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago.
25 In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.”
26 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the LORD ’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.
27 In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.
28 Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath. They are passing through Migron and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
29 They are crossing the pass and are camping at Geba. Fear strikes the town of Ramah. All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, are running for their lives.
30 Scream in terror, you people of Gallim! Shout out a warning to Laishah. Oh, poor Anathoth!
31 There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing. The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.
32 The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day. He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
33 But look! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down.
34 He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.
“Your ability to see things from Christ’s ultimately depends on your vantage point.”~TB
We are all given senses and common sense to understand how to navigate the ways of this world. We are also given the choice to be in relationship with our Father in Heaven so that he can give us the Biblical compass to lead lives that bring honor to Him. Using Christ’s compass sharpens our senses, giving us the ability to see things from a Christ-like perspective. Alternatively, using your own vantage point will give you a finite and inaccurate understanding of a flawed world. But friends, just because we are broken does not mean that God’s perspective is. Understand this distinction.
Man’s viewpoint is flawed and judgmental as we are unable to fully understand or practice mercy, grace and forgiveness in our own right. To the undisciplined and untrained, behaviors like submission and forgiveness seem foolish. That is because the ego and flesh tells us that our understanding of right and wrong is correct! From a legalistic standpoint, everything is black and white. In this mindset, it’s ok to judge and condemn your neighbors, family, and friends when they screw up or offend. It’s ok to rob and enslave the naive because they ‘should’ know better and technically you did not break the law. But don’t be fooled, the wicked may seem successful, but according to who’s vantage point?
Friend’s God’s ways are infinite and never fully understood by man. We lack the ability! Fortunately, what is true and what we can rely on is that this life is not as unpredictable as we like to believe. Look at all of the stories in the Bible. If you read them enough, you will see the behaviors and patterns from old have the same themes of your own. Just adopt God’s vantage point, and you will see that His people do the same good, dumb, shameful, repentant deeds since Adam and Eve. These are the same stories, just different people and different times. So in whatever you do, take His vantage point so that you can see the world and its people as God sees you.
How does the view look from where’ you’re sitting?
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1Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
3You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
6For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
8The Lord has spoken out against Jacob; his judgment has fallen upon Israel.
9And the people of Israel and Samaria, who spoke with such pride and arrogance, will soon know it.
10They said, “We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with finished stone, and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with cedars.”
11But the LORD will bring Rezin’s enemies against Israel and stir up all their foes.
12The Syrians from the east and the Philistines from the west will bare their fangs and devour Israel. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
13For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent. They will not seek the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
14Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.
15The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail.
16For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction.
17That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
18This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke.
19The land will be blackened by the fury of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people will be fuel for the fire, and no one will spare even his own brother.
20They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children.
21Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
“God’s love is not contingent on your behavior.”~TB
Salvation is not merit-based. Thank God— literally— as none of us would measure up. Still, even though we know this, many believe that God is waiting to love the ‘new and improved’ version of us. Like, if we could only sin less, be nicer to our neighbors, do more for the community, etc. then God would love us. No, God loves us in our stupor, our good moments, and the not so great ones. Part of growing with God is understanding how immeasurable His love is. That way we stop trying to attain it and recognize that His love is already ours.
Being unconditionally loved is a near impossible concept for many, which is why we mistake God’s unconditional love for the warped perception that we may have. Sure, parents get pretty close to it, but even still, God’s love is greater. If you’re able to glean how He loves us and sees us, only then can you begin to move in His ways and teachings. Like Jesus on Earth, He sat with everyone and judged no one. Granted we all fall short of this mark, but experiencing His grace when we do fall, is a wonderful thing. So the next time you’re trying to be a Super Christian— sinless and perfect— remember that God’s love is eternal and unconditional. The best way we can mirror this is to try and pass on that same love and grace to one another.
Why are you overcompensating for something that is already yours?
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1Then the LORD said to me, “Make a large signboard and clearly write this name on it: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. ”
2I asked Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah, both known as honest men, to witness my doing this.
3Then I slept with my wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, “Call him Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
4For before this child is old enough to say ‘Papa’ or ‘Mama,’ the king of Assyria will carry away both the abundance of Damascus and the riches of Samaria.”
5Then the LORD spoke to me again and said,
6“My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it. They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.
7Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria and all his glory. This flood will overflow all its channels
8and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep. It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.
9“Huddle together, you nations, and be terrified. Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, but you will be crushed! Yes, prepare for battle, but you will be crushed!
10Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us! ”
11The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,
12“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.
13Make the LORD of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.
14He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
15Many will stumble and fall, never to rise again. They will be snared and captured.”
16Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me.
17I will wait for the LORD, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him.
18I and the children the LORD has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the LORD of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in his Temple on Mount Zion.
19Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?
20Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
21They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven
22and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.
“Check your motives and behaviors because sometimes your illness is caused by your actions.”~TB
Isn’t weird how many of the things we do in our lives are counterintuitive to the goals we wish to achieve? Say you’re trying to lose weight, but keep buying croissants and donuts. Or, you’re trying to start a business but don’t want to qualify prospects. Though we are engaging in this behavior, many times we are quick to blame our circumstance while forgetting about the deeds we did to get there. Our wounds can be self-inflicted and certain afflictions are a result of what we have or haven’t done. When we don’t take responsibility for our hand in our situations, it can seem like life is unfair or that the cards are stacked against you. No, I’m not saying that every bad thing in your life is your fault. I am saying, that the choices we make today impact our ability and mobility tomorrow. More to the point, maybe learned behaviors or life experiences have caused you to take an “ill” viewpoint. To get out of that mentality, a shift in discipline and accountability is imperative. When there is a lack of discipline and accountability, tilling the soil becomes a nuisance rather than the objective.
Discipline isn’t fun but it is a necessary daily practice that we must do. It first starts with disciplining our minds and hearts to follow God. Putting God first every day is challenging for everyone, even those who’ve been doing for a long time. That’s because we are always battling our flesh which is why discipline and endurance are vital. Discipline teaches you to show up, even when you don’t want to. Endurance gives you the extra push to keep going when your tank is on empty. And God fills in the blanks and covers the rest when we fall short. We begin to see the errors of our ways by having honest conversations with God and ourselves. To get there takes humility and an understanding that we’re all flawed. The world isn’t always against you. Sometimes it’s actually you that’s against you. Calling yourself to the carpet and cultivating self-discipline are the best things you can do, not only in your relationship with Christ, but in your relationship and dealing within the world. When you shift your perspective, you will see that your illness is subjective and that if you allow Him, God can prescribe the antidote.
Are you sick of being sick?
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1When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
2The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
3Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
4Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.
5Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying,
6‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’
7But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place;
8for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”
10Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz:
11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ”
12But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”
13Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?
14All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
15By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey.
16For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
17“Then the LORD will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!”
18In that day the LORD will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees.
19They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places.
20In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people.
21In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left.
22Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey.
23In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns.
24The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife.
25No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.
“Following Christ is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story where you can embark on your journey either in fear or in faith.”~TB
God has the ultimate say and our lives are predestined. That said, the free will we are given allows us to make decisions around our every day lives. When you make decisions out of fear, it hinders your growth as you’re stuck on the issues you can see. A fear mindset fixates on problems and not on our Father in Heaven who is the solution to every need. Life isn’t always comfortable and there’s no denying that some situations are dire than others, but when you place your faith in God, alternate endings/choices are available.
Stepping out in faith and making decisions on what God has called you to do isn’t less scary than the fear option. But, because you trust God and not your own understanding, the ability to do the impossible has just become possible. Our God is visionary, able to see things that we cannot. His moves and ways are light years (and more) ahead of our own. So next time you have a choice, make sure you choose in faith and not in fear. Watch how those decisions change your world and adventure.
Which ending are you going to choose?
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1It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.
2Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
3They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
4Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
5Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
7He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
9And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
10Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.”
11Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland;
12until the LORD has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
13If even a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”
“Don’t live by the judgments of man, only God can see you as you truly are.”~TB
Every single human being has insecurities, blind spots, and a slew of fallible qualities that make us terrible judges of character. For this reason, you cannot place your value in the hands of others. When we give people the authority to dictate how we see ourselves, chaos and imbalance ensues. That’s because humans are flawed and are unable to judge one another with the grace and unconditional love that can only come from our Father in Heaven. Even with the best intentions, we will fail each other, and we will fall short of each other’s expectations. So when a human condemns your character on circumstantial evidence, do your best to let it go, because holding on to the judgment of others hinders your personal and spiritual growth.
When you care about how you are viewed by others, you are essentially making your peers your god. This cripples you from being who God truly called you to be. You’re so busy worrying about offending, being uncool, or being seen as weird or different, that you don’t know who you are. Fortunately, this happens to all of us, but you don’t have to let it be a lifelong sentence. To really understand your true identity, develop your relationship with Christ. When you engage with Him regularly, He will show you who you really are— His. God’s opinion of you is infinitely more perfect and accurate than even your own parents. Because His opinion and judgment of you never waivers, you can stand firm on His promise and will for your life.
Whose authority are you submitting to?
1Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a rich and fertile hill.
2He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.
3Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah, you judge between me and my vineyard.
4What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?
5Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it.
6I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.
7The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.
8What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field, until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.
9But I have heard the LORD of Heaven’s Armies swear a solemn oath: “Many houses will stand deserted; even beautiful mansions will be empty.
10Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”
11What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk.
12They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties— lyre and harp, tambourine and flute— but they never think about the LORD or notice what he is doing.
13So my people will go into exile far away because they do not know me. Those who are great and honored will starve, and the common people will die of thirst.
14The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.
15Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.
16But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.
17In that day lambs will find good pastures, and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.
18What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
19They even mock God and say, “Hurry up and do something! We want to see what you can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan, for we want to know what it is.”
20What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.
22What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.
23They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent.
24Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble and dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will rot and their flowers wither. For they have rejected the law of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies; they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25That is why the LORD ’s anger burns against his people, and why he has raised his fist to crush them. The mountains tremble, and the corpses of his people litter the streets like garbage. But even then the LORD ’s anger is not satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike!
26He will send a signal to distant nations far away and whistle to those at the ends of the earth. They will come racing toward Jerusalem.
27They will not get tired or stumble. They will not stop for rest or sleep. Not a belt will be loose, not a sandal strap broken.
28Their arrows will be sharp and their bows ready for battle. Sparks will fly from their horses’ hooves, and the wheels of their chariots will spin like a whirlwind.
29They will roar like lions, like the strongest of lions. Growling, they will pounce on their victims and carry them off, and no one will be there to rescue them.
30They will roar over their victims on that day of destruction like the roaring of the sea. If someone looks across the land, only darkness and distress will be seen; even the light will be darkened by clouds.
“In God’s orchestra, learn to improve and play your part.”~TB
I love orchestral music. The way the moving parts and pieces all come together to make sounds that no instrument can make on their own is fascinating to me. Individually, instruments— just like people— can be wonderful. However, when put together in one unit, great things can be accomplished. But to achieve that, we have to follow our director, God. When God is at the front and center of our lives, He will conduct the most impressive pieces, using ordinary instruments. His sheet music is infinitely more beautiful than our own. In order to fulfill our sheet music in Christ, we must learn to study, accept, and play the part that God has given us.
In an orchestra, you have many instruments, and each section within those instruments has their roles. You have your 1st chair, 2nd chair, and so on. The 1st chairs play the leads and often most complex parts of the music. They are the 1st chair because of their ability to understand and play the difficult parts. The 2nd chair shares some of the load, and 3rd chair and on assists with harmony and the details. In God’s orchestra, you have people who play major parts, but the minor parts— just like in a musical orchestra— add the subtle nuances that make the music sound great.
We all can’t be 1st chair in God’s orchestra, but that doesn’t mean that your part is any less valid or necessary. Maybe that one note that you play is the final long tone that ends the piece. Maybe that harmony really lifts up a section where the melody isn’t all that impressive on its own. My point is, every part and every person in God’s orchestra is vital, which is why we must show up and play to the best of our ability. Sure, looking at your sheet music on its own, your part may not seem all that great or necessary, but when you work together and play your part in God’s orchestra, only then can you see how truly vital you are.
Are you ready to give up your solo and play in God’s orchestra?
Enjoy the reading
1In that day so few men will be left that seven women will fight for each man, saying, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us take your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”
2But in that day, the branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of all who survive in Israel.
3All who remain in Zion will be a holy people— those who survive the destruction of Jerusalem and are recorded among the living.
4The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains with the hot breath of fiery judgment.
5Then the LORD will provide shade for Mount Zion and all who assemble there. He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day and smoke and flaming fire at night, covering the glorious land.
6It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain.
“If your life is constantly embroiled in chaos, it’s time to evaluate your part or the equation”~TB
In life, stormy weather does occur and bad days are par for the course. However, God did not call us to lead lives of constant chaos, nor is the devil permitted to hang over our heads like a perpetual thunder cloud. If you find yourself at odd with people, the world, and life in generally, it’s time to have an honest discussion with God about the reality of the life you lead.
Whether we like to admit it or not, chaos can be fun. It provides a good story to tell, sympathy, and something to do if you’re life seems boring. The problem is, continued chaos reeks havoc on the way humans operate. Every human being seeks routine, in one way or another. As we’re all creatures of comfort to some degree, when we fall off the rails of Biblical normalcy, unresolved issues can lead us to a life of chaos and disarray. If left unchecked, the cycle of chaos may become your routine as you learn to build a life around that dysfunction.
If you find yourself enjoying the FUN in dysfunction, it’s high time you consult with the Lord about your life. Ask him to reveal the blind spots in your line of sight so you can see the chaos for what it truly is. Only when you see the brokenness that is swallowing you whole then can you change the patterns that had gotten hold of you. But first, that starts by surrendering to God so that you can begin to heal.
Are you ready to ditch the Fun in dysfunction?
Enjoy the reading
1The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything they depend on: every bit of bread and every drop of water,
2all their heroes and soldiers, judges and prophets, fortune-tellers and elders,
3army officers and high officials, advisers, skilled sorcerers, and astrologers.
4I will make boys their leaders, and toddlers their rulers.
5People will oppress each other— man against man, neighbor against neighbor. Young people will insult their elders, and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable.
6In those days a man will say to his brother, “Since you have a coat, you be our leader! Take charge of this heap of ruins!”
7But he will reply, “No! I can’t help. I don’t have any extra food or clothes. Don’t put me in charge!”
8For Jerusalem will stumble, and Judah will fall, because they speak out against the LORD and refuse to obey him. They provoke him to his face.
9The very look on their faces gives them away. They display their sin like the people of Sodom and don’t even try to hide it. They are doomed! They have brought destruction upon themselves.
10Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!
11But the wicked are doomed, for they will get exactly what they deserve.
12Childish leaders oppress my people, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you; they send you down the wrong road.
13The LORD takes his place in court and presents his case against his people.
14The LORD comes forward to pronounce judgment on the elders and rulers of his people: “You have ruined Israel, my vineyard. Your houses are filled with things stolen from the poor.
15How dare you crush my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dust?” demands the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
16The LORD says, “Beautiful Zion is haughty: craning her elegant neck, flirting with her eyes, walking with dainty steps, tinkling her ankle bracelets.
17So the Lord will send scabs on her head; the LORD will make beautiful Zion bald.”
18On that day of judgment the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful: ornaments, headbands, crescent necklaces,
19earrings, bracelets, and veils;
20scarves, ankle bracelets, sashes, perfumes, and charms;
22party clothes, gowns, capes, and purses;
23mirrors, fine linen garments, head ornaments, and shawls.
24Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink. She will wear a rope for a sash, and her elegant hair will fall out. She will wear rough burlap instead of rich robes. Shame will replace her beauty.
25The men of the city will be killed with the sword, and her warriors will die in battle.
26The gates of Zion will weep and mourn. The city will be like a ravaged woman, huddled on the ground.