“In all the you do, resolve to keep Christ at the top of your life.”~TB
Put to Bed
It’s the New Year and with the beginning of the calendar comes a lot of reflection, refocus, and resolutions. One of the best things about reflecting with God is that you can see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going in your walk. No, perfection will never happen, but hopefully, obedience is on the rise. So in the coming year, resolve to put to bed any foolishness of the past. As Christ makes a new work in us, our tom-foolery of yesterday can no long remain in our new positions.
As God promotes you with wisdom, kindness, and the daily bread to sustain your faith, promote yourselves but placing Him above all else in your life. When we position God at the top as the center of our existence, we then can see life in 2020 (a little New Year pun, ha!), as He un-blurs His plan for your life. Look at life’s opportunities as learning lessons from above, that will prune, refine, and elevate you into your calling. A new chapter brings new ideas, new challenges, and new joys. Remember that God equips us for it all, so live in His victory this year and on.
Are you walking with Christ to see His Resolution?
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1Listen! The LORD ’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
3Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption.
4No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin.
5They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
6Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark.
7Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them.
8They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
9So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
10We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead.
11We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
12For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD . We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.
17He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD ; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD .
20“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD .
21“And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD . “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!
“We are all God’s agents, dispatched to exemplify His name on various missions.”~TB
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to go out of the country to a foreign land to go on missions for Christ. In fact, chances are you can do more for you neighbor in God’s name than you can to someone who may not be able to fully understand your language. That’s not a dig at those doing great works in other nations. It is a gentle reminder that we all have a duty to help the poor, the widowed, and the downtrodden which you can easily find in your backyard. Like agents on a secret mission, listen to your Holy Commander for your next assignment. That could be feeding the less fortunate, uplifting a family member or neighbor, the list is long and God knows who to select for the cause. If you are looking for a way to get in on the fun that is serving Christ through serving others, all you have to do is look at the Word for guidance.
Spoiler alert #2: you don’t have to shove the Word down the throat of those you serve on your Mission. Look at your dossier– The Word– and read it carefully to understand its instructions. A lot of us get caught up in our egos and go off script with our “help” causing more harm than good. God calls us to be examplesnot enforcers, and there is a difference. Your Mission is torpedoed when you go off script and blow your cover. When working for God, all you have to do is be a light, shining kindness, love, mercy, and humility when carrying out your mission. We are not dispatched to judge because that job is solely reserved for the One who can. So instead of beating the Bible across the faces of “heathens”, try meeting a need. If you are truly looking to show people who God is, love them as He loves you; which means keep the self-righteousness and judgment at home.
Are you carrying out God’s Mission or your own?
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1This is what the LORD says: “Be just and fair to all. Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you.
2Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong.
3“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
4For this is what the LORD says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
5I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!
6“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.
7I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
8For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
9Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!
10For the leaders of my people— the LORD ’s watchmen, his shepherds— are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
11Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
12“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk. Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
“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.
“The Body of Christ means that we are all in this together.”~TB
Church is God’s people, not merely a place you go to on Sunday to check off your sanctified box. Church is everyday, doing life with you brother, sister, family, neighbor and so on. It means stepping in to help the widowed, the poor, the downtrodden, and the like. It means mirroring the ways of Jesus to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, many of us missed the memo on the lessons that Christ actually conveyed.
If you’re idea of Christianity is looking like an Instagram filter on Sundays while judging the members of your church based on a vanity metric system, you need to recalibrate. Our roles as children of God is to spread His message, and not our personal agendas. We must check out egos at the door and see what is needed and not just what we want. There is much more gained in giving than receiving. In all that you do, remember what Jesus did to guide your way.
Are you stepping up or stepping on your brothers and sisters?
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1Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight.
2Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.
3“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.
5“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?
6Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it!
7They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.
8“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones.
9Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
10Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
11I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it.
12“Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right.
13For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel.
“The devil is like an annoying noisy upstairs neighbor. Don’t let him take your peace.”~TB
It is incredibly important for you to remember that the devil is a one hit wonder. His song entices you to take your eyes off the prize that is Christ. He’ll go about it in different ways, but rest assured, it’s the same song, different pitch. Think of him like the frustrating neighbor who cranks up the music because they know it bothers you. Their actions may be annoying, but the secret, rather, the truth is in how you deal with the situation. He can’t do anything to you that can truly affect you. You can however, do his bidding by being the weakest link.
Everyone at one point or another has been the weakest link in any relationship. If you’re the weakest link, it can transpire in a few ways. You cause arguments on arbitrary issues. You’re too legalistic or litigious without balancing your judgement with mercy and grace. You refuse to apologize when you’re wrong. Even worse, you get mad at the person you’ve wronged! To stop being the weakest link, we all have to reflect on our behavior with honesty and humility. Ask yourself, if you love the person that you’re fighting with, is winning the argument that big of a deal? What do you stand to gain if you win the battle but lose the relationship? In those instances, only the devil wins, which is the point!
If you indeed find yourself in the weakest link seat, have a chat with God. There’s a good chance that our issues are ones that we’ve been dealing with for a long time. When you lean on God, you learn to put the sword down and stop fighting. When speaking with God, He will tell you that you’re quarrel isn’t with man, it’s with the opposition. However, you must acknowledge your weak link behavior and that takes some work. No one likes to admit that our number 2’s stink. But they do! So when you embrace humility and recognize that the goal isn’t to be right or to stir discord within your family, friends, or community, you stop being the devil’s plaything. Just ask and you shall receive.
Are you ready to stop being the devil’s pawn or do you enjoy disturbing the peace?
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1This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again.
2This is what the LORD says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
3And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
4“And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
5I am the LORD ; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me,
6so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
7I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
8“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.
9“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”
11This is what the LORD says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
13I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people— without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
14This is what the LORD says: “You will rule the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans. They will come to you with all their merchandise, and it will all be yours. They will follow you as prisoners in chains. They will fall to their knees in front of you and say, ‘God is with you, and he is the only God. There is no other.’”
15Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.
16All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together.
17But the LORD will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.
18For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other.
19I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
20“Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save!
21Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD ? For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me.
22Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.
23I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me. ”
24The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
25In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.
“Your brother is not your enemy, but the devil’s strategy is to make it appear like so.
If we are ALL God’s children, then we must love each other as God loves us. That means loving those you don’t understand, agree with, or even like. Let that sink in for a moment. Every one of us is God’s sheep that belongs in His Holy Stable. That includes the guy that cut you off, your boss who steals your ideas, the cousin who gives backhanded compliments during holiday events. Like it or not, they are God’s people too. The only true enemy we have is the devil and he will try and pit us against each other to circumvent that truth. I struggle to remind myself that no matter the circumstance, a loving Christ-like approach is best. Pray for me as I have to regularly drive the freeway in Las Vegas. I need it.
If we do not take up the cross and reflect the light God gives us, we are no better (and probably worse) than those who do not know Him at all! Don’t be an unwitting foot soldier for the opposition. Your relationship with Christ is not some superiority badge to tout in front of the lost. When you act better than people because you ‘believe’ in God, you fail to understand the mission of Jesus and why His life covers us all. No, the worst case for Christianity is a haughty ‘christian’. Instead, give mercy and kindness to those who don’t deserve it. I can recall the many times God has shown me mercy when He surely was right to give judgment. While I am not perfect (and never will be) I try and extend that grace to those I encounter. When I fail, I try and reflect to do better. So let us remember who Created us and how He loves us, so that we may love our brothers and sisters that same way.
Do you love your brother or are you an enemy of the truth?
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1“Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.
2“Who has stirred up this king from the east, rightly calling him to God’s service? Who gives this man victory over many nations and permits him to trample their kings underfoot? With his sword, he reduces armies to dust. With his bow, he scatters them like chaff before the wind.
3He chases them away and goes on safely, though he is walking over unfamiliar ground.
4Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.”
5The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war.
6The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!”
7The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. “Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.” Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.
8“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend,
9I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
10Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
11“See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing.
12You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing.
13For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
14Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
15You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains.
16You will toss them into the air, and the wind will blow them all away; a whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in the LORD . You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17“When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
19I will plant trees in the barren desert— cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
20I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
21“Present the case for your idols,” says the LORD . “Let them show what they can do,” says the King of Israel.
22“Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen.
23Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
24But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves.
25“But I have stirred up a leader who will approach from the north. From the east he will call on my name. I will give him victory over kings and princes. He will trample them as a potter treads on clay.
26“Who told you from the beginning that this would happen? Who predicted this, making you admit that he was right? No one said a word!
27I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look! Help is on the way!’ I will send Jerusalem a messenger with good news.
28Not one of your idols told you this. Not one gave any answer when I asked.
29See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.
“Thank God for tough times because it’s in those moments where we learn most about compassion.”~TB
Displaying empathy isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I have a great deal of it (I cried during the Back Draft fire simulation at Universal Studios because the thought of people in there was heartbreaking for me) internally, but it usually comes out as practical or logical advice to the issue rather than a listening ear. Fortunately for me, I had great examples of empathetic and loving people to model growing up. And even more fortunately, I’ve gone through some dark times where God’s compassion and mercy got me to the other side. These days, I’m so grateful for every harsh moment in my life, because in those tough times, my level of compassion for others— particularly those I don’t inherently relate to— has increased. I’ll give you an example.
Sometime last year, I was at a Starbucks getting some work done. A lady around my age was sitting with a toddler and a car seat. She was very much focused on the phone and kept scolding the child for not sitting still. I remember at the time, I was irritated by her callousness. Clearly frustrated she walked outside with the child and car seat in tow and sat at one of the tables. Soon after, this woman began to cry as her child was happily playing and none the wiser. In that moment, I felt the need to hand her some napkins, which is odd for me because I’m not one to get involved in emotional distress. As I handed her the napkins, I saw a surprised but grateful look on her face and I could hear a voice saying to give her a hug. On a side note, I’m not a hugger, especially when it comes to strangers.
I ask the woman if I could give her a hug and she says yes. At this point, she’s bawling, explaining she missed an important job interview because her daycare fell through. Though I’ve never been in her shoes, I could relate to her feelings of frustration and helplessness. Even more out of character for me, I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes. After, I went back inside, perplexed at my behavior, but grateful to have been some kind of comfort to a person in need. As she left, she waved at me with a smile, and I just remember feeling a weird connection and sense of gratitude from the exchange.
I’m not sharing this to get a pat on the back or claim some kind of super Christian status. No, I’m just a very human, human being, who more often than not puts her foot in her mouth. I say all of this to say that when you experience the compassion and comfort that God provides, especially in trying times, you can’t help but share that with your neighbor, even when it calls you to get out of your comfort zone. I started that encounter judging this woman on a quick moment in time that I did not understand. How arrogant! But God used the situation to provide kindness to one of His own. My point is, we will all have moments in life to share the gifts of mercy, grace, and compassion that Christ gives to us every single moment of every day. It’s not only helpful for the person in need, it’s as equally vital to you too. These moments allow us to truly understand what the Body of Christ is and how we all are instrumental to one another.
Are you sharing the compassion and kindness that God gives you?
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1What sorrow awaits you Assyrians, who have destroyed others but have never been destroyed yourselves. You betray others, but you have never been betrayed. When you are done destroying, you will be destroyed. When you are done betraying, you will be betrayed.
2But LORD, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble.
3The enemy runs at the sound of your voice. When you stand up, the nations flee!
4Just as caterpillars and locusts strip the fields and vines, so the fallen army of Assyria will be stripped!
5Though the LORD is very great and lives in heaven, he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
6In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD will be your treasure.
7But now your brave warriors weep in public. Your ambassadors of peace cry in bitter disappointment.
8Your roads are deserted; no one travels them anymore. The Assyrians have broken their peace treaty and care nothing for the promises they made before witnesses. They have no respect for anyone.
9The land of Israel wilts in mourning. Lebanon withers with shame. The plain of Sharon is now a wilderness. Bashan and Carmel have been plundered.
10But the LORD says: “Now I will stand up. Now I will show my power and might.
11You Assyrians produce nothing but dry grass and stubble. Your own breath will turn to fire and consume you.
12Your people will be burned up completely, like thornbushes cut down and tossed in a fire.
13Listen to what I have done, you nations far away! And you that are near, acknowledge my might!”
14The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
15Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—
16these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance.
17Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor, and you will see a land that stretches into the distance.
18You will think back to this time of terror, asking, “Where are the Assyrian officers who counted our towers? Where are the bookkeepers who recorded the plunder taken from our fallen city?”
19You will no longer see these fierce, violent people with their strange, unknown language.
20Instead, you will see Zion as a place of holy festivals. You will see Jerusalem, a city quiet and secure. It will be like a tent whose ropes are taut and whose stakes are firmly fixed.
21The LORD will be our Mighty One. He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship can sail upon.
22For the LORD is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.
23The enemies’ sails hang loose on broken masts with useless tackle. Their treasure will be divided by the people of God. Even the lame will take their share!
24The people of Israel will no longer say, “We are sick and helpless,” for the LORD will forgive their sins
“In order to run the race God has set before you, you must be who He made you to be.”~TB
I’m not a fan of doing life in gen. pop. That’s because I’ve noticed that when humans get together in masses, especially with today’s technology, we all begin to act like one another, abandoning certain God given traits, and ultimately derailing our relationship with Christ. If we are all the Body of Christ, we certainly can’t all behave like the head— that’s not a body. Look at the 12 apostles, Moses, Lot, David, and the list goes on. Those people were all characteristically different, yet God used them ALL and for different purposes.
I find that I’m most in tune with God when I’m being the most Taryn I can be. I’m logical to a fault, witty, stubborn, headstrong, smart, skeptical, and enjoy pointing out the ironic practices of my fellow humans (Makeup companies telling you to love yourself as you are, but first, buy their makeup, I mean, come on). I don’t do well in prolonged social engagements and others don’t do well when I’m overly socialized (my snarky robot side comes out). For better or worse, my characteristics equip me for the role God has placed me in. If I gave up on those traits, I could not be who I’m meant to be. On the flip side, if you’re not being who you’re meant to be, well you get the gist.
It’s not hard to feel like you’re in an observation bubble, filled with the need to please and impress others. Problem is, the only people who are beloved by the masses are the ones who obfuscate the truth. The judgment of man cannot override God’s judgment. So, if God called you to be the arm, be the arm. If you’re role is the leg, be the leg. Stop adhering to the ridiculous standards of corporations that want your money or the misguided people who want you to partake in sinful practices. When you keep it honest with yourself and with God, being who you’re meant to be becomes a lot clearer.
Do you know who you are?
Enjoy the reading
1What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine.
2For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.
3The proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel — will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet.
4It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.
5Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.
6He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.
7Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.
8Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere.
9“Who does the LORD think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned?
10He tells us everything over and over— one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
11So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language!
12God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.
13So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.
14Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem.
15You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”
16Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.
17I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.
18I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground.
19Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people.
20The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you.
21The LORD will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed:
22For the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.
23Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.
24Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?
25Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place?
26The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.
27A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
28Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
29The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.
“God promised a peaceful life, not a perfect life, so it’s important to understand the difference.”~TB
When you follow the world too closely, it can lull you into a false sense of how life is “supposed” to go. Society tells you to follow certain practices, go to school, get a job, buy a house, join the HOA, build a family, etc. These rules seem fine because it gives you a sense of “what to do”. However, these superficial guidelines can make the blind feel a false sense of control or security that lies outside of God. Ironically, what this world teaches you is not rooted in Biblical principle, because the only guaranteed thing in life is God and nothing else. Blindly following this “checklist life” will bring you disillusionment and discontent because this path is the exact opposite of what Christ teaches.
The Impossible Quest for Perfection
Yes, it is important to be part of the community. Yes, one must have a job and educate themselves. None of these goals are inherently wrong. That said, life in this world is a journey and not a successive one at that. The world teaches you that life happens in an upward slope. The Bible teaches you that hills, valleys, and plateaus are normal. If you take the world’s guidelines to heart, prepare for a depressing reality because perfection is impossible! At least, for humanity. Just look at Job, Jonah, Joseph, David, and all of the stories in the Bible. Friends, even God’s favorite people in the Word faced trial after trial, setback after setback, before they experienced any kind of success. And, even after they achieved great things, they still faced opposition. So friends, do not strive for perfection, or the picturesque falsehoods of the world. Strive for peace, which can be found in the teachings of the Lord.
Your life does not have to be perfect to experience God’s perfect peace. No, this type of peace comes from a deep and lengthy time with God Himself. Friends, we cannot learn all that Christ has to teach us unless we take the necessary time to spend sitting at His feet. Through God, you learn that life is messy. Through Him, you learn that He controls all. And, if you rely on His wisdom, you will see that He is in the midst of all facets of your life. Know that He is always an umbrella when life and opposition bring inclement weather. Spending time in His presence strengthens your understanding that the world is a broken and misguided place and that you need to possess the lens of Christ in order to see through the falsehoods. So the next time you’re feeling down because life isn’t perfect, ask God to teach you how to sit in perfect peace.
What is stopping you from living in perfect peace?
Enjoy today’s reading
1Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.
2When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
3The man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but if he hangs around with prostitutes, his wealth is wasted.
4A just king gives stability to his nation, but one who demands bribes destroys it.
5To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.
6Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.
7The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.
8Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger.
9If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.
10The bloodthirsty hate blameless people, but the upright seek to help them.
11Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
12If a ruler pays attention to liars, all his advisers will be wicked.
13The poor and the oppressor have this in common— the LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.
14If a king judges the poor fairly, his throne will last forever.
15To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.
16When the wicked are in authority, sin flourishes, but the godly will live to see their downfall.
17Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.
18When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
19Words alone will not discipline a servant; the words may be understood, but they are not heeded.
20There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.
21A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel.
22An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.
23Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.
24If you assist a thief, you only hurt yourself. You are sworn to tell the truth, but you dare not testify.
25Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.
26Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice comes from the LORD .
27The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly
“Fortify your mind like the walls of Jericho, so that you will rely on God’s perfect peace in all of the relationships within your life.”~TB
When you’ve mastered your mind, you begin to understand how truly helpless you are without God. Friends, your foundation has to begin and end with Him. More to the point, loving God above all else is key to loving anyone at all! Experiencing God’s love informs you on how to properly love your brothers and sisters. You cannot truly love someone if you don’t know God’s love. His love is the only infinite and unyielding love there is! Mold your love after the love of Christ and watch how your relationships change. Because God freely loves and forgives, take those same principles and apply them to every relationship in your life. There will be times of mal-intent. There will be times of friendly fire. No matter the case, when God is first in your life, His Truth will reign supreme, giving you the peace and understanding of what it takes to truly love your neighbor.
If you love yourself more than you love God, it will show. But, what does that look like? You love yourself more than God when you allow the influence of external factors dictate your mindset, behavior, etc., overriding your connection to Him. Your mind left undisciplined, will lead you to believe that you are the master and commander of this show. Friends, don’t fall for the lies of your ego and the opposition. The devil knows how to use a weak-minded person and he will use you to cause destruction. Because you are weak, you will gladly participate in his foolishness, as you blindly do his bidding, causing chaos amongst God’s people. Fortunately for us, all things work for Christ and even in your weak-mindedness, God uses it to His benefit. Our strength lies in our weakness because God makes up the difference when we fall short. Remember who loved you first so that you rule your mind accordingly.
Are you giving your weak mind permission to wreak havoc in your life?
Enjoy the reading
1Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense.
2Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.
3Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt.
4Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.
5It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.
6Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.
7The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips.
8Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.
9A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.
10The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.
11The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.
12Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.
13Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
14The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?
15Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.
16Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!
17The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.
18Flipping a coin can end arguments; it settles disputes between powerful opponents.
19An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
20Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction.
21The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
22The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD .
23The poor plead for mercy; the rich answer with insults.
24There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.