“When the Hand of God changes your life, going back is futile and useless.”~TB
When a radical change has occurred in your life, finding your footing can be tough. It’s like a chasm or opening where new opportunities— good or bad— can take root. Patterns and habits from your previous existence no longer bring you the same joy as they once did. But, sometimes knowing where to go next brings more questions than answers and it can be stressful. If you look at the story of Lot’s wife, it can be tough to understand why she was turned into a pillar of salt. All she did was look back, what’s the harm in that? But, if you look at it metaphorically, it’s easier to comprehend. When we begin a new life in Christ, the old stuff cannot remain. It’s kind of like shedding skin if you think about it. The discipline lies in having the courage and faith to move forward without craving the life you once led.
I’ll be honest, when you change into who God has called you to be, you will lose your previous identity and sometimes that means the people you once did life with. It can be an isolating and strange experience if you don’t reach out when necessary. The one thing I’ve learned is that a blank canvas scares many people. After all, our society paints a supposed blueprint for this thing called “life” so when a plan gets blown up, having the imagination and fortitude to start something new can be terrifying. It’s probably why many turn back to old behavior, because it’s comforting or familiar. But, what if the unknown held something better? If we can reconcile the fears we hold in our minds and rely on the vision that God provides, moving forward doesn’t seem all that scary. The trick is to hold onto faith when doing so.
Are you stuck in your past?
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1In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
2Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter.
3You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
5He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust.
6The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it.
7But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
8LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
9In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.
10Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong and take no notice of the LORD ’s majesty.
11O LORD, they pay no attention to your upraised fist. Show them your eagerness to defend your people. Then they will be ashamed. Let your fire consume your enemies.
12LORD, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.
13O LORD our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship.
14Those we served before are dead and gone. Their departed spirits will never return! You attacked them and destroyed them, and they are long forgotten.
15O LORD, you have made our nation great; yes, you have made us great. You have extended our borders, and we give you the glory!
16LORD, in distress we searched for you. We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline.
17Just as a pregnant woman writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth, so were we in your presence, LORD .
18We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world.
19But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!
20Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD ’s anger has passed.
21Look! The LORD is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see.
“How you experience life depends on your personal set of optics.”~TB
Some of us have perfect vision— able to see things without sight. For those of us that don’t, we need glasses to correct our impairment. With the aid of glasses, I am able to see things far away that I otherwise cannot. Boy would the world be in trouble if I drove without the help of glasses or contacts. In the same manner in which we see, our personal relationship with Christ allows us to improve our vision as Christians. In faith, we all have to wear our Christ-prescribed glasses, because without them we either can’t see up close, far out, or not at all. When we walk without God’s help the optics are skewed as we fail to see what really is and what really isn’t.
When you narrow in on the problems and failures of your life, your sight is myopic and useless. Like walking into a wall repeatedly, your vision is so constricted that the minutiae and little things of life become the big and impossible thorns in your side. If all you see in life is the negative or what you lack, it’s time to ask God to help you dilate your sight so that you can see the bigger picture.
A widened perspective is important to help see the grand scheme of things. However, without the details of Christ, we are unable to see the nuances of God’s handbook, the Bible, which helps teach us how to spend our time. Too wide of a lens can make us paralyzed or obtuse in our thinking because we lack the focus to process what we see properly. If you’re in this camp, God’s got the right prescription for you too.
Life is messy, imperfect, and full of tests that we pass, fail, and repeat. Human understanding of life is futile because our black and white vision pales in comparison to God’s vision. In order to get a glimpse at God’s view, we must allow Him to prescribe the correct sight. Your 20/20 vision isn’t going to cut it on it’s own. Fortunately for us, God’s insurance plan is free and only requires us to accept the gift of salvation. If you’re tired of not seeing the full picture or need help seeing the important details ask our Holy Optometrist to give you the right vision.
Are you content with remaining blind?
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1But the LORD will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel.
2The nations of the world will help the people of Israel to return, and those who come to live in the LORD ’s land will serve them. Those who captured Israel will themselves be captured, and Israel will rule over its enemies.
3In that wonderful day when the LORD gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains,
4you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say, “The mighty man has been destroyed. Yes, your insolence is ended.
5For the LORD has crushed your wicked power and broken your evil rule.
6You struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny.
7But finally the earth is at rest and quiet. Now it can sing again!
8Even the trees of the forest— the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon— sing out this joyous song: ‘Since you have been cut down, no one will come now to cut us down!’
9“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you.
10With one voice they all cry out, ‘Now you are as weak as we are!
11Your might and power were buried with you. The sound of the harp in your palace has ceased. Now maggots are your sheet, and worms your blanket.’
12“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north.
14I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’
15Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.
16Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?
17Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’
18“The kings of the nations lie in stately glory, each in his own tomb,
19but you will be thrown out of your grave like a worthless branch. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will be dumped into a mass grave with those killed in battle. You will descend to the pit.
20You will not be given a proper burial, for you have destroyed your nation and slaughtered your people. The descendants of such an evil person will never again receive honor.
21Kill this man’s children! Let them die because of their father’s sins! They must not rise and conquer the earth, filling the world with their cities.”
22This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “I, myself, have risen against Babylon! I will destroy its children and its children’s children,” says the LORD .
23“I will make Babylon a desolate place of owls, filled with swamps and marshes. I will sweep the land with the broom of destruction. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
24The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.
25I will break the Assyrians when they are in Israel; I will trample them on my mountains. My people will no longer be their slaves nor bow down under their heavy loads.
26I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations.
27The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?”
28This message came to me the year King Ahaz died:
29Do not rejoice, you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken— that the king who attacked you is dead. For from that snake a more poisonous snake will be born, a fiery serpent to destroy you!
30I will feed the poor in my pasture; the needy will lie down in peace. But as for you, I will wipe you out with famine and destroy the few who remain.
31Wail at the gates! Weep in the cities! Melt with fear, you Philistines! A powerful army comes like smoke from the north. Each soldier rushes forward eager to fight.
32What should we tell the Philistine messengers? Tell them, “The LORD has built Jerusalem ; its walls will give refuge to his oppressed people.”
“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.
“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?
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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.
“Focus in today’s tasks as tomorrow will have their own”~TB
It is a waste of time to spend today paralyzed worrying about the unknowns of tomorrow. By not tilling the soil today, you are jeopardizing your harvest of the future. Don’t be the maker of your own futility as there are other obstacles that will surely keep you busy. Quit worrying and focus on what God has asked you to do.
To focus, hone in on God‘s word and live your life according to his principles. That way you are keeping your eyes on what is that above, avoiding the pitfalls are trying to control something you have no jurisdiction over. Trust in His perfect timing by dwelling in his perfect peace so that your focus is on the right thing.
What are you focusing on?
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1These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
2Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me.
3Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care— but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
4Oh, what a sinful nation they are— loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the LORD . They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.
5Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick.
6You are battered from head to foot— covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds— without any soothing ointments or bandages.
7Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see.
8Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman’s shelter in a vineyard, like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest, like a helpless city under siege.
9If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.
10Listen to the LORD, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
11“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD . “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.
14I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.
17Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
18“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD . “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
19If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.
20But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
21See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers.
22Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine.
23Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows.
24Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, “I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes!
25I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities.
26Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.”
27Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness.
28But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who desert the LORD will be consumed.
29You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks. You will blush because you worshiped in gardens dedicated to idols.
30You will be like a great tree with withered leaves, like a garden without water.
31The strongest among you will disappear like straw; their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire. They and their evil works will burn up together, and no one will be able to put out the fire.
“Don’t try to fight your battles on your own unless you want to be in a constant tug of war with your flesh, the world, and the devil.”~TB
It’s important to know your opposition, weaknesses, and stumbling blocks because in the battle for your mind, body, and soul, all bets are off. Your flesh won’t fight fair, neither will the world or the evil one. This isn’t to say that you should fear these things. No, but to understand what you’re dealing with gives you the reality that you need God to intervene so that you can win the war.
When you’re sick of struggling to deal with the thorn in your side, ask God to join your team. With Him on your side, your game of tug of war is no match for the opposing team. Christ is like having the best player as a teammate, as you are able to rely on His Power to make up what you lack. To experience this, you must know that the battle cannot be won on your own accord. Get on Team Jesus so that He can thwart the enemy.
Are you ready to stop playing tug of war on your own?
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Song of Solomon 8
1Oh, I wish you were my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts. Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me.
2I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine.
3Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me.
4Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.
5Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on her lover? Young Woman I aroused you under the apple tree, where your mother gave you birth, where in great pain she delivered you.
6Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.
7Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
8We have a little sister too young to have breasts. What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her?
9If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.
10I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.
11Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit.
12But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines.
13O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too!
14Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
“Do you not fear your darkest hour because to fully realize God’s grace, you must know what he is sparing you from.”~TB
If I could give any advice to people— young and old— I would tell them to reject the teachings and ideas of the world. If you believe them, your perception and understanding of God’s will always be distorted. People tell each other the dumbest things, that have nothing to do with God, His grace, or even what His will is in your life. The world will sooner tell you it’s ok to become a unicorn rather than acknowledge God’s existence. The world and its ways are upside down. This is especially true when it comes to hard times and bad events
Dark Times produce the purest fruit, because whatever leaves wasn’t necessary and whatever remains is what will see you through. Your darkest hour will reveal how much you truly need the Lord and that all things work according to His plan. Humility and submission will open your eyes to what exactly is going on around you. In hard times, look to see the lessons. Remember that those tough moments didn’t break you. No, you survived! When you are spared from these crazy moments, you then realize that God’s Will is the only way. Surviving harsh times makes you grateful for salvation and everything in between. So the next time you’re being tested or going through a struggle, let God guide you through the moment.
Are you learning from your darkest hour or is bitterness setting in?
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Song of Solomon 7
1How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O queenly maiden. Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a skilled craftsman.
2Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies.
3Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle.
4Your neck is as beautiful as an ivory tower. Your eyes are like the sparkling pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is as fine as the tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus.
5Your head is as majestic as Mount Carmel, and the sheen of your hair radiates royalty. The king is held captive by its tresses.
6Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!
7You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.
8I said, “I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like grape clusters, and the fragrance of your breath like apples.
9May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— Young Woman Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10I am my lover’s, and he claims me as his own.
11Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers.
12Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.
13There the mandrakes give off their fragrance, and the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover.
“In order to get your attention, God will allow uncomfortable situations to occur to shake you from your zombie-like state.”~TB
The next time you’re in public, like in a store, take a look and observe your surroundings. It’s not hard to see that we operate like zombies, mindlessly plugged into things, not fully present. Society is so numb with gadgets and the constant need for entertainment, it’s no wonder why people are struggling to feel something real. Everything is manufactured and designed for instant gratification! There are so many distractions, devices, and the like that keep us from truly knowing God. Friends, you have to get out of your mindless routines and seek the Lord with all of your attention and heart. If you desire an authentic relationship with God, don’t be surprised if certain things, behaviors or people are uprooted from your life in the process. It is called pruning for a reason.
Seasons of setbacks, discomfort, and loss aren’t always bad things or from the opposition. Comfort numbs us from thinking we need to change. Complacency is more dangerous than external forces, which is why God will shake things up for those who seek Him. In those moments, self-reflection is crucial for you to grow in Christ, because with the wrong set of eyes, you can mistake correction for persecution. It’s easy to become frustrated in your walk and wonder ‘why me’. However, if you can look past how you feel and look at your life with an honest heart, you will find that God is showing you something. Some of you are numb, getting by, forgoing your calling. Others are exploiting others’ work and not tilling their own soil. Wherever you are, if you’ve knocked on God’s door and He’s shaken you from your zombie life, rejoice! Look and listen carefully to learn what He is showing you.
Song of Solomon 4
1You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
2Your teeth are as white as sheep, recently shorn and freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
3Your lips are like scarlet ribbon; your mouth is inviting. Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
4Your neck is as beautiful as the tower of David, jeweled with the shields of a thousand heroes.
5Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies.
6Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.
7You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.
8Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Come down from Mount Amana, from the peaks of Senir and Hermon, where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills.
9You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.
10Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.
11Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon.
12You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.
13Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices— henna with nard,
14nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice.
15You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains.
16Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.
“God will send you to unexpected places not to punish you, but to remind you of your purpose and who made you.”~TB
I made an unexpected trip to Tennessee about 2 weeks ago. I had plans to go to Virginia, but things happened to deter that plan. The woman that was hosting me was a kind and gregarious lady, very interested in spirits, practicing all faiths, witchcraft, and ‘healing’. Now, I’m not one to be shy about telling people when they’re wrong, but for the sake of getting along, I politely nodded and moved on the subject. Interestingly enough, she kept prompting me to share what I believed.
Pulling a Jonah
During our chat, I was annoyed because I didn’t really feel like having this conversation. Days prior, I was in Charlotte NC on a hike and someone had smashed my driver side window and stole my wallet, laptop, guitar, and a few meaningful items that I cannot replicate. It was a very deflating experience, especially being so far from home. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood for sharing the Good News. But something in this woman’s eyes made me realize that she wasn’t looking for a debate, but rather the Truth. I felt the gentle nudge to do my part. So I shared it with her.
I found out that my host wasn’t always into witchcraft and multiple faiths. She was a believer that fell through hard times and walked away. During this conversation, I was reminded that we all get weary, and the opposition will always push us to the brink to get us to walk away from the Truth. I also realized that me running into this woman was not only for her benefit, but for my own. As Christ followers know, it can be tough during times and some battles can seem unfair and punitive. I say all this to say, that whenever you’re going through an intense struggle or bouts of depressing lows, in those moments, look for the reminders of who you are and who you belong to. He’s with you in all things and is there to guide you if you choose to seek Him.
Are you checking your reminders?
Enjoy the reading
1As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.
2Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.
3Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him.
5It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.
6Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
7Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
8Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.
9Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
10Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
11The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
12People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver.
14Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children.
15We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.
17Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life.
19And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.
20God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
“Do your best to be even-keeled as life if full of hills, valleys, and plateaus. The only thing we can be sure of is that God is in the midst of it all.”~TB
Notice the patterns in life, things are always in motion, whether you like it or not. Good things happen, followed by bad things, followed by ok things, and so on and so on. When you rely on the understanding the world tries to give, you will be as helpless and unstable as a leaf in a severe wind. If you seek peace, get to know God. It is that relationship, and that relationship alone that can help you understand the tide of your life.
Instead of fighting the tide, learn to flow with it. God will teach you how to wade in the waters of life if you let Him. This starts by relinquishing what control you believe to have in this worlds. Friends, we control nothing and even the best laid plans can crumble. This shouldn’t scare you, no, instead rejoice in the Truth that the Hand of God is in all things. All things work for Him, so don’t push or pull in your life, but rather, go with the flow.
Are you going with the flow with God?
1For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
9What do people really get for all their hard work?
10I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.
11Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
12So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
13And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
14And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.
15What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
16I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!
17I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”
18I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals.
19For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless!
20Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust.
21For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?
22So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.