“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?
Enjoy the reading
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.”
“Rely on the wisdom of Christ to run your race”~TB
My dad and I started playing chess this year. I had casually been playing on my iPad and thought I was doing quite well. One day, I challenged my father— thinking that my mental prowess would make me a superior player. He accepts, saying that he’s played a bit but isn’t that good. My ego— which is notorious for writing checks it can’t cash— saw a lamb ripe for slaughter. Needless to say, every time we’ve played, I leave with my tail tucked between my legs. My ego still has not recovered from the brutal beatings I’ve received. I’ve never come close to being a formidable opponent, which is a rarity for me. And on a side note, my dad comes off as this unassuming dude, which masks his shark-like thinking. You never see it coming until it’s too late. Even though I know this, I still get taken for a ride.
My brain processes information rather quickly. It allows me to think, decipher, theorize, and just think about multiple scenarios/conclusions within seconds. Usually this works in my favor, but in chess, not so much. In chess, patience and discipline reign supreme— especially when you’re learning the game. My father has those character traits in spades. He’s the tortoise to my hare— I may process faster, but I burnout quicker. Whereas, he may take longer, but he has the tenacity to finish the race. It reminds me of how we build our relationship with Jesus and how it equates to the race that is life. Walking with Christ requires long endurance, not short sprints. And if you have not developed the discipline it takes to run that race, prepare to have your tail between your legs quite a bit. Fortunately, Christ is always patient, so we have a lifetime to work on our endurance and discipline.
While life seems to go by in a blink of an eye, it’s really quite long. Our relationship, or lack thereof determines how we run that race. If you’re like me, trying to process and jump through lessons quickly, you can easily miss the lessons that He is trying to teach you. But, if you can slow down, assess your board and make moves according to His will, you’re able to learn lessons that many of us fail to even see! I say all of this to say, that your walk with Christ is a life-long, progressive relationship. There is always something new to learn and a new move to play. It’s the exact reason why the Bible is called the Living Word. Depending on where you are on the board of your life, the Bible can and will apply new revelations and meaning. So buckle up and put your long distance shoes on as it takes a lifetime to run the race God has set before you.
Are you looking for a lifetime run or a lifetime full of excuses?
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1In that day the LORD will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea.
2“In that day, sing about the fruitful vineyard.
3I, the LORD, will watch over it, watering it carefully. Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it.
4My anger will be gone. If I find briers and thorns growing, I will attack them; I will burn them up—
5unless they turn to me for help. Let them make peace with me; yes, let them make peace with me.”
6The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with fruit!
7Has the LORD struck Israel as he struck her enemies? Has he punished her as he punished them?
8No, but he exiled Israel to call her to account. She was exiled from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east.
9The LORD did this to purge Israel’s wickedness, to take away all her sin. As a result, all the pagan altars will be crushed to dust. No Asherah pole or pagan shrine will be left standing.
10The fortified towns will be silent and empty, the houses abandoned, the streets overgrown with weeds. Calves will graze there, chewing on twigs and branches.
11The people are like the dead branches of a tree, broken off and used for kindling beneath the cooking pots. Israel is a foolish and stupid nation, for its people have turned away from God. Therefore, the one who made them will show them no pity or mercy.
12Yet the time will come when the LORD will gather them together like handpicked grain. One by one he will gather them—from the Euphrates River in the east to the Brook of Egypt in the west.
13In that day the great trumpet will sound. Many who were dying in exile in Assyria and Egypt will return to Jerusalem to worship the LORD on his holy mountain.
“Check your motives and behaviors because sometimes your illness is caused by your actions.”~TB
Isn’t weird how many of the things we do in our lives are counterintuitive to the goals we wish to achieve? Say you’re trying to lose weight, but keep buying croissants and donuts. Or, you’re trying to start a business but don’t want to qualify prospects. Though we are engaging in this behavior, many times we are quick to blame our circumstance while forgetting about the deeds we did to get there. Our wounds can be self-inflicted and certain afflictions are a result of what we have or haven’t done. When we don’t take responsibility for our hand in our situations, it can seem like life is unfair or that the cards are stacked against you. No, I’m not saying that every bad thing in your life is your fault. I am saying, that the choices we make today impact our ability and mobility tomorrow. More to the point, maybe learned behaviors or life experiences have caused you to take an “ill” viewpoint. To get out of that mentality, a shift in discipline and accountability is imperative. When there is a lack of discipline and accountability, tilling the soil becomes a nuisance rather than the objective.
Discipline isn’t fun but it is a necessary daily practice that we must do. It first starts with disciplining our minds and hearts to follow God. Putting God first every day is challenging for everyone, even those who’ve been doing for a long time. That’s because we are always battling our flesh which is why discipline and endurance are vital. Discipline teaches you to show up, even when you don’t want to. Endurance gives you the extra push to keep going when your tank is on empty. And God fills in the blanks and covers the rest when we fall short. We begin to see the errors of our ways by having honest conversations with God and ourselves. To get there takes humility and an understanding that we’re all flawed. The world isn’t always against you. Sometimes it’s actually you that’s against you. Calling yourself to the carpet and cultivating self-discipline are the best things you can do, not only in your relationship with Christ, but in your relationship and dealing within the world. When you shift your perspective, you will see that your illness is subjective and that if you allow Him, God can prescribe the antidote.
Are you sick of being sick?
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1When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
2The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
3Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
4Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.
5Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying,
6‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’
7But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place;
8for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”
10Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz:
11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ”
12But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”
13Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?
14All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
15By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey.
16For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
17“Then the LORD will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!”
18In that day the LORD will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees.
19They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places.
20In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people.
21In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left.
22Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey.
23In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns.
24The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife.
25No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.
“Accept your piece of proper protocol with God’s commandments and receive and activate you heavenly cell phone connection.” ~ Jon Barnes
How can you be trained by God if your spiritual phone is disconnected? Minimize your regular cell phone usage. You are too busy, tweeting, eating, sleeping, texting, sexting, and consuming fake news and bad information. Get your bibles out, get to work, and practice your training, so that you may know what your playful peace is in God. Stop copying TV and technology as biblical training for your soul. You know better.
Your daily discipline will help you develop your heavenly harvest, full of ripe fruit for eternity, as you obey and do the hard work of love. When you are alone, tired, needy, sick, weary, and afraid, God can test and see what you are made of. Your training, trust, and love for God steadies your hand, mind, and heart, while you perform open heart surgery with your life, in His Hands. Be like the Good Doctor and practice Good Medicine that is all natural remedies from God’s Kingdom.
God produces leaders with lifestyles that match His likeness, honesty, and character. This earthly fruit looks and tastes like the heavenly fruit of love. Don’t allow the devil to spoil your harvest with your own hands, mouth, poor actions, and lack of faith. Protect your produce with loving kindness, long-suffering, meekness, patience, and care in the Lord with work and faith.
Is your faith real in God or is it a bunch of fake trump cards?
13Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”[a]
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.
Benediction and Final Greetings
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenantbrought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
22 Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.
23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.
24 Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.