“Building a firm foundation in Christ is a marathon, not a sprint.”~TB
A marathon cannot be run after a few test practices. Similarly, a relationship with Christ cannot be achieved after one run glance at the Word. We cannot put short-term efforts into knowing our Father in Heaven. No, it takes a lifetime of seeking, listening, failing, repenting, trying, and the like to uncover a semblance of understanding who Christ is. Friends, this is a lifelong endeavor of which we must forego the short-term comfort of ignorance to embrace the long-term impacts of salvation. Do your training accordingly.
When you put in the work each day to learn the Truth of Christ, you build an endurance to run the race He has set before you. The shortcuts are less appealing and the long-term goal of receiving the gift that only He can give becomes the priority. We cannot know the winning effects of knowing God without doing our daily training with Him. More to the point, we have to encourage and give hope to our teammates so that they may be inspired and not deterred from training for their race. Though each day brings its own challenge, consider the long-term advantages of running with Christ than against.
Are you putting in the work, or are you waiting until the last minute to cram a lifetime of training?
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1“If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the LORD .
2“Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness.
3That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
4Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
5Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”
6During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree.
7I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this.
8She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution.
9Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted.
10But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
11Then the LORD said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah!
12Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the LORD says: “O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.
13Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the LORD your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice. I, the LORD, have spoken!
14“Return home, you wayward children,” says the LORD, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel — one from this town and two from that family— from wherever you are scattered.
15And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
16“And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
17In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the LORD .’ All nations will come there to honor the LORD . They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
18In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.
19“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land— the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
21Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God.
23Our worship of idols on the hills and our religious orgies on the mountains are a delusion. Only in the LORD our God will Israel ever find salvation.
24From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters— was squandered on a delusion.
25Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the LORD our God. From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed him.”
“Until the day we die, there is always something to learn from God.”~TB
I was writing another blog post just a few moments ago, trying to break down some interesting concepts until I realized that the message wasn’t meant for the blog, but was a new ‘aha’ learning moment for me specifically. I took a minute to chew on it and was filled with joy at the new piece of the puzzle that I was given. To the outside world, I know a lot, but to tell you the truth, I’m also aware of how much I don’t know, which is why I keep pestering God with many, many questions. Fortunately, He is patient and doesn’t seem to mind answering them. Even better, being the Infinite being He is, we all can join in on His lesson plans.
Remarkably, the Bible has so much to say in every season of life. The Living Word is living up to its name, ha! As we go through this world, the wise teachings and stories are parallel to our own experiences, which is why we can glean so much information from one passage in any given era of our life. For example, I’ve read 2 Corinthians many times, yet, the other day, I got something out of it that I had not seen before. It encourages me to keep seeking the Truth in all of its forms because the lessons are neverending, and my relationship with God grows deeper and more joyful each passing day. I do have trying days like anyone else, but the comfort of the Lord makes them much more tolerable.
The Revelation of Reflection
When we quiet the external noise and train our minds to focus, God can then reveal the infinite amount of information that takes more than a lifetime to understand and pontificate on. Just when I think I know all of the statistical permutations, combinations, and variations there are to understand something, God drops another nugget of understanding, giving me something else to learn. The Truth is, we live in a chaotic, backward, deceitful world that benefits when we plug our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts from God. Many of us do not go on to learn and grow with God because of the distraction created by the world we inhabit. Fortunately for us, all we have to do is ask. Then, buckle up for a lifetime journey of learning.
Are you waiting until it’s too late to learn from God?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.
2All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
3All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.
4At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods.
5Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
6“Look, my decree is written out in front of me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them—
7both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors,” says the LORD . “For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full!
8“But I will not destroy them all,” says the LORD . “For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away— some of those grapes are good!’), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there.
9I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess my land. Those I choose will inherit it, and my servants will live there.
10The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me, and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds.
11“But because the rest of you have forsaken the LORD and have forgotten his Temple, and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny,
12now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword. All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes— and chose to do what you know I despise.”
13Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will starve. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be sad and ashamed.
14My servants will sing for joy, but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
15Your name will be a curse word among my people, for the Sovereign LORD will destroy you and will call his true servants by another name.
16All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.
17“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
18Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.
19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.
20“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young!
21In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
22Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
23They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed.
24I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
25The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“In God’s orchestra, learn to improve and play your part.”~TB
I love orchestral music. The way the moving parts and pieces all come together to make sounds that no instrument can make on their own is fascinating to me. Individually, instruments— just like people— can be wonderful. However, when put together in one unit, great things can be accomplished. But to achieve that, we have to follow our director, God. When God is at the front and center of our lives, He will conduct the most impressive pieces, using ordinary instruments. His sheet music is infinitely more beautiful than our own. In order to fulfill our sheet music in Christ, we must learn to study, accept, and play the part that God has given us.
In an orchestra, you have many instruments, and each section within those instruments has their roles. You have your 1st chair, 2nd chair, and so on. The 1st chairs play the leads and often most complex parts of the music. They are the 1st chair because of their ability to understand and play the difficult parts. The 2nd chair shares some of the load, and 3rd chair and on assists with harmony and the details. In God’s orchestra, you have people who play major parts, but the minor parts— just like in a musical orchestra— add the subtle nuances that make the music sound great.
We all can’t be 1st chair in God’s orchestra, but that doesn’t mean that your part is any less valid or necessary. Maybe that one note that you play is the final long tone that ends the piece. Maybe that harmony really lifts up a section where the melody isn’t all that impressive on its own. My point is, every part and every person in God’s orchestra is vital, which is why we must show up and play to the best of our ability. Sure, looking at your sheet music on its own, your part may not seem all that great or necessary, but when you work together and play your part in God’s orchestra, only then can you see how truly vital you are.
Are you ready to give up your solo and play in God’s orchestra?
Enjoy the reading
1In that day so few men will be left that seven women will fight for each man, saying, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us take your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”
2But in that day, the branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of all who survive in Israel.
3All who remain in Zion will be a holy people— those who survive the destruction of Jerusalem and are recorded among the living.
4The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains with the hot breath of fiery judgment.
5Then the LORD will provide shade for Mount Zion and all who assemble there. He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day and smoke and flaming fire at night, covering the glorious land.
6It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain.
“Though we believe without seeing, there is nothing blind about following Jesus.”~TB
When you don’t have a relationship with God it’s easy to think that those who do just blindly follow the teachings of Christ. As if Christians live some cherry pie existence, blissfully and ignorantly enjoying life without troubles. Oh, but if they only knew. Having a an authentic relationship with Christ requires you to ask questions, have doubts, air grievances, complain, moan, mumble, etc. No, to follow Christ isn’t blind, it requires you to keep your eyes and ears open to experience the wisdom that only comes from Him.
The Truth is, though we cannot see in the natural world, God guides us spiritually, helping us to see in other ways. Through Him, we are connected to each other. Through those relationships, we can see how God impacts each and everyone of us. Of course, you must see, hear, and ask these things of God so that you too can see the patterns of His love through us. It is so important to have honest communication with your brothers and sisters in Christ, so that the babes develop their sight and that the wise don’t go blind from bitterness in the trenches. It is the Truth of the Lord that removes the scales of the world to see what is really going on.
Are you blinded by the world?
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Song of Solomon 3
1One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come.
2So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him.
3The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?”
4Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly, then I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived.
5Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
6Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?
7Look, it is Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers.
8They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh, ready to defend the king against an attack in the night.
9King Solomon’s carriage is built of wood imported from Lebanon.
10Its posts are silver, its canopy gold; its cushions are purple. It was decorated with love by the young women of Jerusalem.
11Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day
“Be conscious of the things you say as words have the power to build people up or tear them down.”
Everyone in this world, no matter how big or small has the ability to influence people with their words. Words like daggers can wound even the most thickest skin. Like a poisonous dart, harsh words pierce the soul, and it’s effects may still be seen for a long period of time. Friends, God doesn’t tear us down, so why tear each other?
Words of encouragement can inspire a person to achieve the impossible. The power of a kind word can be felt for years to come, lifting up the weary or acknowledging the oppressed. The words of life are like fuel to a fire, giving hope to those who need it. In all that you do, for yourself and others, speak life into it.
Are your words speaking life or sending people to the emotionally infirmary?
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Song of Solomon 2
1I am the spring crocus blooming on the Sharon Plain, the lily of the valley.
2Like a lily among thistles is my darling among young women.
3Like the finest apple tree in the orchard is my lover among other young men. I sit in his delightful shade and taste his delicious fruit.
4He escorts me to the banquet hall; it’s obvious how much he loves me.
5Strengthen me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am weak with love.
6His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.
7Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
8Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.
9My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he is behind the wall, looking through the window, peering into the room.
10My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!
11Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.
12The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
13The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming. Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!”
14My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.
15Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!
16My lover is mine, and I am his. He browses among the lilies.
17Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, return to me, my love, like a gazelle or a young stag on the rugged mountains.
“Few people give encouraging words of love, hope, charity, thanks giving because it takes work to raise children properly, teaching them about truth, justice, and faith that you believe and daily practice or your life is full of confusion and contradictions.” ~ Jon Barnes
Your words and love language become clear to your children each day based on the truth of your actions, work, and results from your personal relationship with God, family, and people! You are being monitored and copied all of the time because people are looking to see God in your daily behavior.
Clarity in communication, backed up with written words of God from His Bible will help you to clean up the confusion and contradictions in your life so that everyone can see that you put your trust in God, not money, stuff, or materialistic items. Your personal idols are clearly marked in your closet, garage, or storage sheds that will be thrown away, sold or dumped as waste when you die.
Dig out your mess, give it away to help someone else, sell what you don’t need and finish the projects God wants you to do with your time, family, and friends. Start helping people help themselves by cleaning up your words, stories, testimonies, and works by giving an accurate account on how God is blessing, providing, teaching, loving, and patiently showing you kindness in your laziness and confession.
Do you honestly confess to God, your family, friends, and enemies that you love them by trying to do a better job in helping them out with the love of God in your heart, in clarity, with no confusion, simply wanting nothing in return?
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The Priests Begin Their Work
9 After the ordination ceremony, on the eighth day, Moses called together Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.2 He said to Aaron, “Take a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defects, and present them to the Lord.3 Then tell the Israelites, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and take a calf and a lamb, both a year old and without defects, for a burnt offering.4 Also take a bull[a] and a ram for a peace offering and flour moistened with olive oil for a grain offering. Present all these offerings to the Lord because the Lord will appear to you today.’”
5 So the people presented all these things at the entrance of the Tabernacle,[b] just as Moses had commanded. Then the whole community came forward and stood before the Lord.6 And Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.”
7 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering to purify yourself and the people. Then present the offerings of the people to purify them, making them right with the Lord,[c] just as he has commanded.”
8 So Aaron went to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself.9 His sons brought him the blood, and he dipped his finger in it and put it on the horns of the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.10 Then he burned on the altar the fat, the kidneys, and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offering, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.11 The meat and the hide, however, he burned outside the camp.
12 Next Aaron slaughtered the animal for the burnt offering. His sons brought him the blood, and he splattered it against all sides of the altar.13 Then they handed him each piece of the burnt offering, including the head, and he burned them on the altar.14 Then he washed the internal organs and the legs and burned them on the altar along with the rest of the burnt offering.
15 Next Aaron presented the offerings of the people. He slaughtered the people’s goat and presented it as an offering for their sin, just as he had first done with the offering for his own sin.16 Then he presented the burnt offering and sacrificed it in the prescribed way.17 He also presented the grain offering, burning a handful of the flour mixture on the altar, in addition to the regular burnt offering for the morning.
18 Then Aaron slaughtered the bull and the ram for the people’s peace offering. His sons brought him the blood, and he splattered it against all sides of the altar.19 Then he took the fat of the bull and the ram—the fat of the broad tail and from around the internal organs—along with the kidneys and the long lobes of the livers.20 He placed these fat portions on top of the breasts of these animals and burned them on the altar.21 Aaron then lifted up the breasts and right thighs as a special offering to the Lord, just as Moses had commanded.
22 After that, Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar.23 Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community.24 Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.
“Thanks for the lovely compliments and encouragement you have given me over the years, sharing smiles of joy, laughter, and love around the world; Because I want to be known for the good service I can do and not known for the complaints and the murmuring that can take place in my mind, with God, family, and with friends” ~ Jon Barnes
Place your heart, mind, body, mouth, and movement into a permanent place of love, joy, peace, happiness, and cheer, so that you may cover up all the negative, bad things that will happen to you and around the people you love, especially your enemies. Let the love you have for God Kill your enemies with Kindness, which is the ultimate biblical lifestyle of practice and your weakness will be God’s Greatest Strength. Stop complaining about the past, which was 5 minutes ago!
Light up the world, which can be full of darkness, so that your love shines constantly, efficiently, and effectively with everything you say, think, and do. Don’t let the negative stuff drag your time, energy, hopes and dreams, into a black hole of despair and pity. The party starts and ends with you, so light it up, cheer up, and bring the cake of joy with you to change your world and grow the meaning of Love. Talk about your future, which is really now in the next second!
Your compliments, feelings, energies, words, and actions will push people into the right direction, whether they like it or not because they are constantly blessed by having you around and whatever your hand’s touch turns into Gold! Happiness is Golden, free, and intentional so place you mindset and options into God’s hands of freedom, liberty, love, contentment, and life. Stay in the moment, life is short!
Did you know that great things are built on the backs of slaves, the poor, and the underclass, while loving God and staying on task, in spite of the opposition and unfairness?
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Plans for the Altar of Burnt Offering
27 “Using acacia wood, construct a square altar 7 1⁄2 feet wide, 7 1⁄2 feet long, and 4 1⁄2 feet high.[a]2 Make horns for each of its four corners so that the horns and altar are all one piece. Overlay the altar with bronze.3 Make ash buckets, shovels, basins, meat forks, and firepans, all of bronze.4 Make a bronze grating for it, and attach four bronze rings at its four corners.5 Install the grating halfway down the side of the altar, under the ledge.6 For carrying the altar, make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze.7 Insert the poles through the rings on the two sides of the altar.8 The altar must be hollow, made from planks. Build it just as you were shown on the mountain.
Plans for the Courtyard
9 “Then make the courtyard for the Tabernacle, enclosed with curtains made of finely woven linen. On the south side, make the curtains 150 feet long.[b]10 They will be held up by twenty posts set securely in twenty bronze bases. Hang the curtains with silver hooks and rings.11 Make the curtains the same on the north side—150 feet of curtains held up by twenty posts set securely in bronze bases. Hang the curtains with silver hooks and rings.12 The curtains on the west end of the courtyard will be 75 feet long,[c] supported by ten posts set into ten bases.13 The east end of the courtyard, the front, will also be 75 feet long.14 The courtyard entrance will be on the east end, flanked by two curtains. The curtain on the right side will be 22 1⁄2 feet long,[d] supported by three posts set into three bases.15 The curtain on the left side will also be 22 1⁄2 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases.
16 “For the entrance to the courtyard, make a curtain that is 30 feet long.[e] Make it from finely woven linen, and decorate it with beautiful embroidery in blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Support it with four posts, each securely set in its own base.17 All the posts around the courtyard must have silver rings and hooks and bronze bases.18 So the entire courtyard will be 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with curtain walls 7 1⁄2 feet high,[f] made from finely woven linen. The bases for the posts will be made of bronze.
19 “All the articles used in the rituals of the Tabernacle, including all the tent pegs used to support the Tabernacle and the courtyard curtains, must be made of bronze.
Light for the Tabernacle
20 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually.21 The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant.[g]Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.
“Happiness becomes hollow when your good works become derailed and abandoned, like a baby left on a sidewalk for someone else to find, Love, and nurture.” ~ Jon Barnes
We tend to forget that someone nurtured us to become who we are now. We become greedy and not willing to share and give to others. We resist the plan, naked, true of justice, fairness, responsibility, and love. We are just dishonest people, who need God, All of The Time!
I will never give up on God and His plans for my life. I will never put my ideas and plans before the Work of God is done. I will never allow the plans of others to change my destiny with God! I will never Give up on God and His Wisdom.
It is Ok for me to not understand everything God is doing in your life and mine. It is Ok for us to make mistakes, but get back up and fix your problems. It is Ok for you to let God help you with the people He sends your way. It is Ok to Love. Happy Hollow is not Ok.
Are you putting your love into Happy Hollow Things or into God and His Purpose?
2 Corinthians 10
Paul’s Defense of His Ministry
10 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
7 You are judging by appearances.[a] If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ,they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand,16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[b]18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.