“In order to run the race God has set before you, you must be who He made you to be.”~TB
I’m not a fan of doing life in gen. pop. That’s because I’ve noticed that when humans get together in masses, especially with today’s technology, we all begin to act like one another, abandoning certain God given traits, and ultimately derailing our relationship with Christ. If we are all the Body of Christ, we certainly can’t all behave like the head— that’s not a body. Look at the 12 apostles, Moses, Lot, David, and the list goes on. Those people were all characteristically different, yet God used them ALL and for different purposes.
I find that I’m most in tune with God when I’m being the most Taryn I can be. I’m logical to a fault, witty, stubborn, headstrong, smart, skeptical, and enjoy pointing out the ironic practices of my fellow humans (Makeup companies telling you to love yourself as you are, but first, buy their makeup, I mean, come on). I don’t do well in prolonged social engagements and others don’t do well when I’m overly socialized (my snarky robot side comes out). For better or worse, my characteristics equip me for the role God has placed me in. If I gave up on those traits, I could not be who I’m meant to be. On the flip side, if you’re not being who you’re meant to be, well you get the gist.
It’s not hard to feel like you’re in an observation bubble, filled with the need to please and impress others. Problem is, the only people who are beloved by the masses are the ones who obfuscate the truth. The judgment of man cannot override God’s judgment. So, if God called you to be the arm, be the arm. If you’re role is the leg, be the leg. Stop adhering to the ridiculous standards of corporations that want your money or the misguided people who want you to partake in sinful practices. When you keep it honest with yourself and with God, being who you’re meant to be becomes a lot clearer.
Do you know who you are?
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1What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine.
2For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.
3The proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel — will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet.
4It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.
5Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.
6He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.
7Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.
8Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere.
9“Who does the LORD think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned?
10He tells us everything over and over— one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
11So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language!
12God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.
13So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.
14Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem.
15You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”
16Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.
17I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.
18I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground.
19Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people.
20The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you.
21The LORD will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed:
22For the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.
23Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.
24Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?
25Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place?
26The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.
27A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
28Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
29The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.
“Walking with Christ does not mean your life becomes perfect. It does make you approach life differently, however.”~TB
A couple weeks ago, I wrapped up a road trip where I visited 31 states within 50 days. During my trip, I experienced many setbacks, car troubles, delays, theft, etc. I also got to see many wonderful aspects that each state uniquely had to offer. I’m not sharing this to brag or seem interesting (Trust me, I’m not), but the experience taught me one thing: there’s always something. In life, no matter how Christlike or not, everyone has their share of ups and downs, triumphs and failures, joy and suffering. Accepting Christ doesn’t necessarily change your circumstances. However, it does change how you see and react to life’s challenges. When you know and trust that God is in control, you focus less on the storm and more on your Maker.
Sit Back, Relax
When I was a kid and my siblings and I were traveling with my dad, I’d often ask where we were going. 100% of the time I was either met with “You’ll see when we get there,” or, “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride”. As a kid, this frustrated me because I wanted to know. Now, I look back and laugh, because I still ask those questions, but they’re now directed to my Father in Heaven. He too gives me similar answers. I’m still working on the patience angle, but hey, trial and error. I say all this to say, we choose how we navigate our lives. No, God doesn’t promise a ‘pain free’ life, but if you allow Him to work within you, you can begin to see life differently. And that change in perspective makes all the difference on the decisions and choices you make day to day. Life will never be perfect, but with God, you can learn how to enjoy the ride.
Are you different?
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1Send lambs from Sela as tribute to the ruler of the land. Send them through the desert to the mountain of beautiful Zion.
2The women of Moab are left like homeless birds at the shallow crossings of the Arnon River.
3“Help us,” they cry. “Defend us against our enemies. Protect us from their relentless attack. Do not betray us now that we have escaped.
4Let our refugees stay among you. Hide them from our enemies until the terror is past.” When oppression and destruction have ended and enemy raiders have disappeared,
5then God will establish one of David’s descendants as king. He will rule with mercy and truth. He will always do what is just and be eager to do what is right.
6We have heard about proud Moab— about its pride and arrogance and rage. But all that boasting has disappeared.
7The entire land of Moab weeps. Yes, everyone in Moab mourns for the cakes of raisins from Kir-hareseth. They are all gone now.
8The farms of Heshbon are abandoned; the vineyards at Sibmah are deserted. The rulers of the nations have broken down Moab— that beautiful grapevine. Its tendrils spread north as far as the town of Jazer and trailed eastward into the wilderness. Its shoots reached so far west that they crossed over the Dead Sea.
9So now I weep for Jazer and the vineyards of Sibmah; my tears will flow for Heshbon and Elealeh. There are no more shouts of joy over your summer fruits and harvest.
10Gone now is the gladness, gone the joy of harvest. There will be no singing in the vineyards, no more happy shouts, no treading of grapes in the winepresses. I have ended all their harvest joys.
11My heart’s cry for Moab is like a lament on a harp. I am filled with anguish for Kir-hareseth.
12The people of Moab will worship at their pagan shrines, but it will do them no good. They will cry to the gods in their temples, but no one will be able to save them.
13The LORD has already said these things about Moab in the past.
14But now the LORD says, “Within three years, counting each day, the glory of Moab will be ended. From its great population, only a feeble few will be left alive.”
“Learn to be kind and patient with one another as we all make mistakes.”~TB
I process information pretty quickly. It works in my favor most of the time, but every now and then my quick thinking leads me to jump to inaccurate conclusions. Yesterday, for example, I checked the oil dipstick to ‘inspect’ my newly changed oil and in my haste, I deemed there was no oil in my car. I immediately call the mechanic and demand them remedy the situation. Fortunately, my father— who is more experienced with cars— checked and showed me that there indeed was oil in the car. Clean oil looks drastically different than old oil, who knew! Embarrassed, I called the mechanic and apologized, owning my error and he graciously accepted it. I’m glad that he was able to bestow kindness and patience towards me, even though I was ready to read him the riot act when I thought he made a mistake. So why am I sharing this? Giving each other grace and mercy allows us to grow and learn, so that we can extend the same to the next person.
Practice the same mercy and grace that God gives us with everyone that comes into your life. Granted, that’s easier said than done, just look at the above paragraph. When we jump to conclusions, and expect the worst in people, we fail them by not giving them a chance. More to the point, we might be the ones who are wrong. Even further, how we deal with others is a direct reflection of how we deal with ourselves. If we cannot extend mercy and grace to ourselves, how can we dispense it to others? So if you are insufficient in the mercy and grace department, take cues from our Father in Heaven. Read the Word and talk with Him to model His ways. In the Bible, there are plenty examples of Jesus extending grace and mercy to those who didn’t meet perfect standards. Conversely there are many folks in there who were as unmerciful as they were imperfect. So friends, strive to walk with each other as God seeks to walk with us.
Are you walking in grace and mercy or are you quick to jump to conclusions.
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1Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
2And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD .
3He will delight in obeying the LORD . He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.
4He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
5He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.
6In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.
7The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD .
10In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
11In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to bring back the remnant of his people— those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt; in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, and Elam; in Babylonia, Hamath, and all the distant coastlands.
12He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.
13Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end. They will not be rivals anymore.
14They will join forces to swoop down on Philistia to the west. Together they will attack and plunder the nations to the east. They will occupy the lands of Edom and Moab, and Ammon will obey them.
15The LORD will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River, sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams so it can easily be crossed on foot.
16He will make a highway for the remnant of his people, the remnant coming from Assyria, just as he did for Israel long ago when they returned from Egypt.
“Following Christ is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story where you can embark on your journey either in fear or in faith.”~TB
God has the ultimate say and our lives are predestined. That said, the free will we are given allows us to make decisions around our every day lives. When you make decisions out of fear, it hinders your growth as you’re stuck on the issues you can see. A fear mindset fixates on problems and not on our Father in Heaven who is the solution to every need. Life isn’t always comfortable and there’s no denying that some situations are dire than others, but when you place your faith in God, alternate endings/choices are available.
Stepping out in faith and making decisions on what God has called you to do isn’t less scary than the fear option. But, because you trust God and not your own understanding, the ability to do the impossible has just become possible. Our God is visionary, able to see things that we cannot. His moves and ways are light years (and more) ahead of our own. So next time you have a choice, make sure you choose in faith and not in fear. Watch how those decisions change your world and adventure.
Which ending are you going to choose?
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1It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.
2Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
3They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
4Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
5Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
7He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
9And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
10Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.”
11Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland;
12until the LORD has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
13If even a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”
“Don’t live by the judgments of man, only God can see you as you truly are.”~TB
Every single human being has insecurities, blind spots, and a slew of fallible qualities that make us terrible judges of character. For this reason, you cannot place your value in the hands of others. When we give people the authority to dictate how we see ourselves, chaos and imbalance ensues. That’s because humans are flawed and are unable to judge one another with the grace and unconditional love that can only come from our Father in Heaven. Even with the best intentions, we will fail each other, and we will fall short of each other’s expectations. So when a human condemns your character on circumstantial evidence, do your best to let it go, because holding on to the judgment of others hinders your personal and spiritual growth.
When you care about how you are viewed by others, you are essentially making your peers your god. This cripples you from being who God truly called you to be. You’re so busy worrying about offending, being uncool, or being seen as weird or different, that you don’t know who you are. Fortunately, this happens to all of us, but you don’t have to let it be a lifelong sentence. To really understand your true identity, develop your relationship with Christ. When you engage with Him regularly, He will show you who you really are— His. God’s opinion of you is infinitely more perfect and accurate than even your own parents. Because His opinion and judgment of you never waivers, you can stand firm on His promise and will for your life.
Whose authority are you submitting to?
1Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a rich and fertile hill.
2He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.
3Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah, you judge between me and my vineyard.
4What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?
5Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it.
6I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.
7The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.
8What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field, until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.
9But I have heard the LORD of Heaven’s Armies swear a solemn oath: “Many houses will stand deserted; even beautiful mansions will be empty.
10Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”
11What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk.
12They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties— lyre and harp, tambourine and flute— but they never think about the LORD or notice what he is doing.
13So my people will go into exile far away because they do not know me. Those who are great and honored will starve, and the common people will die of thirst.
14The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.
15Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.
16But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.
17In that day lambs will find good pastures, and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.
18What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
19They even mock God and say, “Hurry up and do something! We want to see what you can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan, for we want to know what it is.”
20What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.
22What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.
23They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent.
24Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble and dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will rot and their flowers wither. For they have rejected the law of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies; they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25That is why the LORD ’s anger burns against his people, and why he has raised his fist to crush them. The mountains tremble, and the corpses of his people litter the streets like garbage. But even then the LORD ’s anger is not satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike!
26He will send a signal to distant nations far away and whistle to those at the ends of the earth. They will come racing toward Jerusalem.
27They will not get tired or stumble. They will not stop for rest or sleep. Not a belt will be loose, not a sandal strap broken.
28Their arrows will be sharp and their bows ready for battle. Sparks will fly from their horses’ hooves, and the wheels of their chariots will spin like a whirlwind.
29They will roar like lions, like the strongest of lions. Growling, they will pounce on their victims and carry them off, and no one will be there to rescue them.
30They will roar over their victims on that day of destruction like the roaring of the sea. If someone looks across the land, only darkness and distress will be seen; even the light will be darkened by clouds.
“In God’s orchestra, learn to improve and play your part.”~TB
I love orchestral music. The way the moving parts and pieces all come together to make sounds that no instrument can make on their own is fascinating to me. Individually, instruments— just like people— can be wonderful. However, when put together in one unit, great things can be accomplished. But to achieve that, we have to follow our director, God. When God is at the front and center of our lives, He will conduct the most impressive pieces, using ordinary instruments. His sheet music is infinitely more beautiful than our own. In order to fulfill our sheet music in Christ, we must learn to study, accept, and play the part that God has given us.
In an orchestra, you have many instruments, and each section within those instruments has their roles. You have your 1st chair, 2nd chair, and so on. The 1st chairs play the leads and often most complex parts of the music. They are the 1st chair because of their ability to understand and play the difficult parts. The 2nd chair shares some of the load, and 3rd chair and on assists with harmony and the details. In God’s orchestra, you have people who play major parts, but the minor parts— just like in a musical orchestra— add the subtle nuances that make the music sound great.
We all can’t be 1st chair in God’s orchestra, but that doesn’t mean that your part is any less valid or necessary. Maybe that one note that you play is the final long tone that ends the piece. Maybe that harmony really lifts up a section where the melody isn’t all that impressive on its own. My point is, every part and every person in God’s orchestra is vital, which is why we must show up and play to the best of our ability. Sure, looking at your sheet music on its own, your part may not seem all that great or necessary, but when you work together and play your part in God’s orchestra, only then can you see how truly vital you are.
Are you ready to give up your solo and play in God’s orchestra?
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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.
“Find older and wiser people who can teach you a thing or two about life.”~TB
It’s wise to spend time with those who have a well developed relationship with God. While you still have to cultivate your own, a mentor can help you with perspective when you can’t get out of your own way. Great lessons and ‘ah hah’ moments can be discovered when you seek counsel from those who’ve come before you. Those who have spent some time on this Earth have seen and experienced moments that the youth have not, so when making any decision of importance, have a word with a mentor.
Perhaps the best reason for having a mentor is to get advice when your pride is writing checks it can’t cash. We all struggle with an ego from time to time and having a soundboard who is emotionally removed from your situation will give you a more nuanced understanding of what you’re going through. More to the point, you can learn from their lessons if you are willing to let go of what is causing you to stumble. So while you’re having talks with God, be sure to chat with those who’ve walked with Him before you.
Who do you consult with to keep you accountable?
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1This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2In the last days, the mountain of the LORD ’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
3People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD ’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.
4The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
5Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD !
6For the LORD has rejected his people, the descendants of Jacob, because they have filled their land with practices from the East and with sorcerers, as the Philistines do. They have made alliances with pagans.
7Israel is full of silver and gold; there is no end to its treasures. Their land is full of warhorses; there is no end to its chariots.
8Their land is full of idols; the people worship things they have made with their own hands.
9So now they will be humbled, and all will be brought low— do not forgive them.
10Crawl into caves in the rocks. Hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty.
11Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted on that day of judgment.
12For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has a day of reckoning. He will punish the proud and mighty and bring down everything that is exalted.
13He will cut down the tall cedars of Lebanon and all the mighty oaks of Bashan.
14He will level all the high mountains and all the lofty hills.
15He will break down every high tower and every fortified wall.
16He will destroy all the great trading ships and every magnificent vessel.
17Human pride will be humbled, and human arrogance will be brought down. Only the LORD will be exalted on that day of judgment.
18Idols will completely disappear.
19When the LORD rises to shake the earth, his enemies will crawl into holes in the ground. They will hide in caves in the rocks from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty.
20On that day of judgment they will abandon the gold and silver idols they made for themselves to worship. They will leave their gods to the rodents and bats,
21while they crawl away into caverns and hide among the jagged rocks in the cliffs. They will try to escape the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty as he rises to shake the earth.
22Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?
“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?
Enjoy the reading
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.
“God promised a peaceful life, not a perfect life, so it’s important to understand the difference.”~TB
When you follow the world too closely, it can lull you into a false sense of how life is “supposed” to go. Society tells you to follow certain practices, go to school, get a job, buy a house, join the HOA, build a family, etc. These rules seem fine because it gives you a sense of “what to do”. However, these superficial guidelines can make the blind feel a false sense of control or security that lies outside of God. Ironically, what this world teaches you is not rooted in Biblical principle, because the only guaranteed thing in life is God and nothing else. Blindly following this “checklist life” will bring you disillusionment and discontent because this path is the exact opposite of what Christ teaches.
The Impossible Quest for Perfection
Yes, it is important to be part of the community. Yes, one must have a job and educate themselves. None of these goals are inherently wrong. That said, life in this world is a journey and not a successive one at that. The world teaches you that life happens in an upward slope. The Bible teaches you that hills, valleys, and plateaus are normal. If you take the world’s guidelines to heart, prepare for a depressing reality because perfection is impossible! At least, for humanity. Just look at Job, Jonah, Joseph, David, and all of the stories in the Bible. Friends, even God’s favorite people in the Word faced trial after trial, setback after setback, before they experienced any kind of success. And, even after they achieved great things, they still faced opposition. So friends, do not strive for perfection, or the picturesque falsehoods of the world. Strive for peace, which can be found in the teachings of the Lord.
Your life does not have to be perfect to experience God’s perfect peace. No, this type of peace comes from a deep and lengthy time with God Himself. Friends, we cannot learn all that Christ has to teach us unless we take the necessary time to spend sitting at His feet. Through God, you learn that life is messy. Through Him, you learn that He controls all. And, if you rely on His wisdom, you will see that He is in the midst of all facets of your life. Know that He is always an umbrella when life and opposition bring inclement weather. Spending time in His presence strengthens your understanding that the world is a broken and misguided place and that you need to possess the lens of Christ in order to see through the falsehoods. So the next time you’re feeling down because life isn’t perfect, ask God to teach you how to sit in perfect peace.
What is stopping you from living in perfect peace?
Enjoy today’s reading
1Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.
2When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
3The man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but if he hangs around with prostitutes, his wealth is wasted.
4A just king gives stability to his nation, but one who demands bribes destroys it.
5To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.
6Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.
7The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.
8Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger.
9If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.
10The bloodthirsty hate blameless people, but the upright seek to help them.
11Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
12If a ruler pays attention to liars, all his advisers will be wicked.
13The poor and the oppressor have this in common— the LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.
14If a king judges the poor fairly, his throne will last forever.
15To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.
16When the wicked are in authority, sin flourishes, but the godly will live to see their downfall.
17Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.
18When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
19Words alone will not discipline a servant; the words may be understood, but they are not heeded.
20There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.
21A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel.
22An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.
23Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.
24If you assist a thief, you only hurt yourself. You are sworn to tell the truth, but you dare not testify.
25Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.
26Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice comes from the LORD .
27The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly