“When you believe that God’s ideas are better than your’s, then you’ve arrived.”~Jon Barnes
God gave us free will, which means that we are free to carry out our own plans. Thing is, between the flesh, the world, and the opposition, we don’t always make the best decisions. If you’re tired of hitting your head against the wall, doing things that don’t give you peace or contentment, try letting God be your GPS.
Allowing God to direct your steps is like being in the driver’s seat of a self-operating vehicle. You first have to have the faith that God knows better than you. Then you have to let His will be done in lieu of your own. Friends, as a control freak, I completely understand how difficult that is.
God’s plan is way cooler, way better, way more Devine than anything we could ever cook up. It’s mustering up the faith and stillness to allow His Plan to work that is the hard part. When we understand that we must ignore our foolish plans and adopt His, God can work wonders in our lives.
Which ideas are you listening to?
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1Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.
2He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
3He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”
4I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the LORD ’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
5And now the LORD speaks— the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The LORD has honored me, and my God has given me strength.
6He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
7The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
8This is what the LORD says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.
9I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.
10They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the LORD in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters.
11And I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west, and from as far south as Egypt. ”
13Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
14Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
15“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
16See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
17Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away.
18Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.
19“Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people. Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away.
20The generations born in exile will return and say, ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’
21Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who has given me all these descendants? For most of my children were killed, and the rest were carried away into exile. I was left here all alone. Where did all these people come from? Who bore these children? Who raised them for me?’”
22This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations. They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders.
23Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD . Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
24Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go?
25But the LORD says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.
26I will feed your enemies with their own flesh. They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the world will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel. ”
“God will provide the solutions for your life, but it is your job to put them into action.”~TB
If you ignore the chaotic abyss that is the world, a life following Christ becomes more tangible. The older I get, the more I realize that the answers to life’s questions that I seek can be found in the Bible and by talking to God. Man, I could have avoided many dumb decisions earlier on had I heeded His word. In quiet study and communication lies the many wonderful and simple solutions that only Christ can give. Imagine the kind of life we could live if only we used the correct answers instead of our own!
It’s one thing to know what to do; it’s an entirely different story to do it. I find that when I walk the path He’s set before me, things miraculously make sense. On the flip side, when I’m copying others or looking for external validation, my world becomes complex, messy, and off task. Getting the solutions is the simple part, putting them into action, well that’s a lifelong endeavor. To fulfill the call that God has for our lives, we must quiet the outside noise and follow the instructions and solutions that He gives.
Are you using God’s solutions for life’s equations?
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1“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises,
2even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
3Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.
4For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze.
5That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’
6You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard.
7They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
8“Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.
9Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out.
10I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11I will rescue you for my sake— yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!
12“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last.
13It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
14Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies.
15“I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed.
16Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message.
17This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
19Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
20Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The LORD has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.
21They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.
22“But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the LORD .
“Only you can give up your peace; but you must cultivate your faith to believe it.”~TB
Faith is total trust and confidence in God. It’s a verb in that you must act on it every second of every day. Though we can’t open a door and say “Here is God!”, we know that He exists and is the creator of all. It’s easy to say we have faith. After all, it sounds pretty and whimsical. But there is a fundamental difference between talking faith and walking in faith. And, we are tested on this day in and day out. The devil can rattle your cage, but ultimately you must decided whether or not to lose your peace about it.
Walking in faith means that even though you are not in control of your situation, you are at total peace because you know who is. It means to sit still and let God handle the heavy lifting in your life. It also means to not allow your upstairs neighbor who likes to crank her bass up loud all day long after you’ve talked to her twice about it get under your skin. When you experience a tough time, remember that God is sovereign and there is nothing out of His control. So don’t merely talk about faith, walk in it so that you can experience the Hand of God in your life.
Are you using the real ‘F’ word?
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1But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.
7Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.
9Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.
11I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.
12First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD .
13“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
14This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King.
16I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea.
17I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
26Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws.
28That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.
“Your brother is not your enemy, but the devil’s strategy is to make it appear like so.
If we are ALL God’s children, then we must love each other as God loves us. That means loving those you don’t understand, agree with, or even like. Let that sink in for a moment. Every one of us is God’s sheep that belongs in His Holy Stable. That includes the guy that cut you off, your boss who steals your ideas, the cousin who gives backhanded compliments during holiday events. Like it or not, they are God’s people too. The only true enemy we have is the devil and he will try and pit us against each other to circumvent that truth. I struggle to remind myself that no matter the circumstance, a loving Christ-like approach is best. Pray for me as I have to regularly drive the freeway in Las Vegas. I need it.
If we do not take up the cross and reflect the light God gives us, we are no better (and probably worse) than those who do not know Him at all! Don’t be an unwitting foot soldier for the opposition. Your relationship with Christ is not some superiority badge to tout in front of the lost. When you act better than people because you ‘believe’ in God, you fail to understand the mission of Jesus and why His life covers us all. No, the worst case for Christianity is a haughty ‘christian’. Instead, give mercy and kindness to those who don’t deserve it. I can recall the many times God has shown me mercy when He surely was right to give judgment. While I am not perfect (and never will be) I try and extend that grace to those I encounter. When I fail, I try and reflect to do better. So let us remember who Created us and how He loves us, so that we may love our brothers and sisters that same way.
Do you love your brother or are you an enemy of the truth?
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1“Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.
2“Who has stirred up this king from the east, rightly calling him to God’s service? Who gives this man victory over many nations and permits him to trample their kings underfoot? With his sword, he reduces armies to dust. With his bow, he scatters them like chaff before the wind.
3He chases them away and goes on safely, though he is walking over unfamiliar ground.
4Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.”
5The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war.
6The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!”
7The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. “Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.” Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.
8“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend,
9I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
10Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
11“See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing.
12You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing.
13For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
14Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
15You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains.
16You will toss them into the air, and the wind will blow them all away; a whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in the LORD . You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17“When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
19I will plant trees in the barren desert— cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
20I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
21“Present the case for your idols,” says the LORD . “Let them show what they can do,” says the King of Israel.
22“Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen.
23Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
24But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves.
25“But I have stirred up a leader who will approach from the north. From the east he will call on my name. I will give him victory over kings and princes. He will trample them as a potter treads on clay.
26“Who told you from the beginning that this would happen? Who predicted this, making you admit that he was right? No one said a word!
27I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look! Help is on the way!’ I will send Jerusalem a messenger with good news.
28Not one of your idols told you this. Not one gave any answer when I asked.
29See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.
“Thank God that His plans far supersede our own.”~TB
I had planned to move to Eugene OR after my travels. I loved the location, the river, and the coffee shops that were literally everywhere. I felt for sureit was the place for me to be. In spite of my best efforts, I could not find a place in my desired location before my move in date. I even came close to finding a home that was right next to a friend I had made during my visit earlier this year. Even though in my mind, it was perfect scenario, it didn’t pan out. Instead, after some convincing from my parents, they encouraged me to move back to Las Vegas.
In my limited vision, all I could see was that my plans were dashed and that Vegas was not the place for me. But what I’ve come to know is that being back in Las Vegas is exactly where I’m supposed to be. For starters, my family is here. Having dinners with my nephews is something I would not trade for the world. Secondly, sunlight. I need daily walks in sunlight or I feel like a zombie. In Eugene, it rains more than it doesn’t. I would’ve eventually been so miserable. My point in saying all of this is, had my original plans worked out, I would’ve suffered. But instead, I have many things to be thankful for in a city I didn’t want to be in. I laugh and thank God for His infinite vision as opposed to my shortsighted plans. It also makes me reflect on how many perceived failures we all put on our backs because things didn’t work out as we had hoped. So, the next time you think about the ways your plans haven’t worked, remember that God’s plans and timing take into account the things we do not understand.
Whose plans are better; God’s or yours?
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1Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him.
2Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.
3Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth, and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.
4Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly.
5In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Scoundrels will not be respected.
6For fools speak foolishness and make evil plans. They practice ungodliness and spread false teachings about the LORD . They deprive the hungry of food and give no water to the thirsty.
7The smooth tricks of scoundrels are evil. They plot crooked schemes. They lie to convict the poor, even when the cause of the poor is just.
8But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
9Listen, you women who lie around in ease. Listen to me, you who are so smug.
10In a short time—just a little more than a year— you careless ones will suddenly begin to care. For your fruit crops will fail, and the harvest will never take place.
11Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief.
12Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines.
13For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone.
14The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtowers
15until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
16Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field.
17And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.
18My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.
19Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down,
20the LORD will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
“Whatever you ‘lose’ on your walk with God, you will receive way more in return.”~TB
Walking with Christ, you will lose things. Friends that you thought would be around forever, activities that gave you temporary pleasure, and a mindset that led you astray. In the beginning, this loss, this “sacrifice” seems punitive and unfair. The people and the activities that once orbited your life no longer hold the same influence or joy. In this stage, it can feel more like a punishment than a blessing, but in time, you will see the change in tide that will lead you to better things.
A relationship with Christ is the key to the self-imposed shackles that we place on ourselves. It’s funny, because some people will say that following God is restricting, but in reality, it’s actually quite liberating. You’re free to think objectively, not bowing down to the pressures of modern society. You know not to through away your hard-earned money on vanity and fruitless endeavors. You learn to love your neighbor as God loves you because you’ve experienced the Hand of God on your life. There is a freedom in Christ that is unlike any other, and if you take the time to study, listen, and learn it is way more than any man-made gift on this earth.
Are you way more interested in the truth or society’s shackles?
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1What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
2In his wisdom, the LORD will send great disaster; he will not change his mind. He will rise against the wicked and against their helpers.
3For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the LORD raises his fist against them, those who help will stumble, and those being helped will fall. They will all fall down and die together.
4But this is what the LORD has told me: “When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion.
5The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it.”
6Though you are such wicked rebels, my people, come and return to the LORD .
7I know the glorious day will come when each of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images your sinful hands have made.
8“The Assyrians will be destroyed, but not by the swords of men. The sword of God will strike them, and they will panic and flee. The strong young Assyrians will be taken away as captives.
9Even the strongest will quake with terror, and princes will flee when they see your battle flags,” says the LORD, whose fire burns in Zion, whose flame blazes from Jerusalem
“If you struggle with stumbling blocks seek Christ and wise counsel to learn how to remove them.”~TB
We all have stumbling blocks, that may have come from a hurtful and traumatic experience from our past. Maybe you accidentally choked on an apple and years later the color red makes you anxious. Perhaps the snake scene in Indiana Jones scared you, so now reptiles freaks you out. These are relatively mild experiences, but if you examine your life, I’m sure you can find your own examples. Some triggers are harmless while others can cause problems in our lives or negatively impact those around us. I bring this up because whatever causes us to stumble or to fall, the devil will exploit to the maximum of his ability. His job is to take our eyes from Christ and suck the joy and purpose that God has for each and every one of us. This is where strength in numbers and honest Biblical conversations really come into play.
Talk it Out
I’ve found through the years that if I ask God pointed questions about examining the areas of improvement of my life, the revelations are astounding! Seriously, it’s like divine therapy. Add in the weekly chats with my dad where we volley ideas and concepts back and forth, I get the opportunity to learn a lot. Of course, there’s no harm in talking with a professional either. My point is that in order to improve on our weaknesses and stop being an unconscious henchmen for the opposition, self-awareness is critical.
I’ll give you a personal example. For work, I am a freelance writer, creating content for organizations and universities. For the most part, I love my job and the flexibility and autonomy it brings. Most recently, however, I realized that some contracts present a certain sense of anxious foreboding for me and it impacts my ability to do my job well. In a moment of frustration, I asked God, “what is wrong with me?”. Funnily enough a memory of my former boss popped into my head.
My first big kid job was at Burger King in their corporate operations department. I had a micromanaging boss that enjoyed sending me performance managing emails with the HR manager cc-ed to them. Ironically, my territory was the highest performing within her portfolio, but for one reason or another, she enjoyed singling me out. It got so bad that it affected my personal life and I eventually left. That was 6 years ago.
Now, I realize that subconsciously, I get anxious working with clients who remind me of her. Through no fault of their own, I’ve been projecting my experience onto my clients, which has been hindering the joy and creating in my work. The beauty of this revelation is that I can now intentionally work on my attitude toward certain clients as I don’t want to keep repeating the cycle.
A lot of people believe having a relationship with Christ is just about salvation and escaping the fate of hell. But really, it’s so much more. When Christ influences your life, you experience peace, joy, contentment today. The benefits of Christ don’t start when we die, they’re already here! For this reason, I encourage you to ask Him questions, talk with Him daily, and get some feedback and perspective from elders. Reflective wisdom can help you identify your triggers and remove the root-causes of problems within your life. This all can happen when you seek to know Him.
Are you reaping the benefits of knowing Christ
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1In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod,
2the LORD told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.
3Then the LORD said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia.
4For the king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt.
5Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt!
6They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’”
“We make it easy for the devil when we don’t know who we are or Who made us.”~TB
Identity is a powerful concept. Our interpretation of who we believe we are shapes our thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and so on. If you know God, your personal understanding of your identity changes. First, you are His, everything else becomes secondary. If you don’t know God, first, you lack an accurate perspective on identity, allowing your flesh, the world, and the opposition to plant confusion in your ear. Today, the idea of identity has been severely skewed with dangerous misconceptions. I used to think that people were duped because they didn’t have the resources to know God (As I type this, I realize that initial thought was foolish because God is omnipotent). But now, I realize we are in the shape that we’re in— both physically and mentally— because we want what is easy. Friend’s take caution as easy street is the opposition’s breeding ground.
Knowing God is simple— not necessarily easy. It takes discipline to continue to fall, get back up, learn, and repeat. Just like learning a new skill, continual practice is vital in growing your relationship with God. Unfortunately, we’ve built a society that demonizes hard work and champions complacency. It’s so blatant that we complicate our lives to justify our laziness. Think about it, people will make excuses rather than do the work. People will also justify mutilating their bodies based on how they feel, rather than trying to get to the heart of their true identity. This isn’t to say that those who struggle aren’t fighting something difficult. Choosing easy feels like a ‘get out of responsibility’ card, and trust me I get it. Problem is, easy doesn’t benefit tomorrow and when tomorrow fades, we all have to give an account, no matter which road we chose. So know your true identity and choose wisely.
Do you want easy or eternal?
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1Listen, Ethiopia —land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
2that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.
3All you people of the world, everyone who lives on the earth— when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look! When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!
4For the LORD has told me this: “I will watch quietly from my dwelling place— as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day, or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”
5Even before you begin your attack, while your plans are ripening like grapes, the LORD will cut off your new growth with pruning shears. He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
6Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields for the mountain vultures and wild animals. The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer. The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.
7At that time the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the LORD of Heaven’s Armies dwells.
“Imagine the progress one could make if they were simply honest with themselves.”~TB
It is astounding how a flesh-ruled mind can distort life. We trick our minds into spending money we don’t have, behaving in carnal ways, eating things that are unhealthy, the list goes on and on. We made the situation, yet beg God to free us from the havoc we have wreaked. Of course humans justify stupidity with their feelings or their circumstance, as if those things absolve them from making sound decisions. We’re all guilty of this. What’s even funnier is that the justification is always way more complicated then the truth: we did what we did because we wanted to. We didn’t read the Bible not because we didn’t have the time: we didn’t want to. We didn’t go to the gym because we’re tired: we didn’t want to. We’d rather cling to a web of convoluted lies than take responsibility. Of course when the time to account for our progress— lack thereof— everyone is ready with a well-argued explanation devoid of the truth— we didn’t put in the effort.
Keep is Simple
Honesty is hard because it forces you to look in the mirror. One has to untangle the webs woven to spin the lies that bind their lives. Being responsible for your actions requires you to acknowledge that you alone control your behavior. Today, we look for all kinds of reasons to absolve us from our poor choices. Instead of saying “I didn’t want to do the work”, we have a diagnosis or excuse for why we didn’t. Friends, the problem with mental gymnastics is that after a while, you begin to believe your own nonsense, which hinders you from growth or progress. Now you’re trapped in the lies you created! The truth can be painful, but it is so necessary for development, especially in your relationship with Christ. So if you’re done trying to explain why you didn’t, speak plainly so that you can change your mindset and behaviors. When you hold yourself accountable for your shortcomings, you can then build a foundation of honest effort to make progress. If God is who you seek, spend time with Him. If it’s not your actual agenda, stop faking it. Your peers may not know the difference, but surely He does.
What web of lies are trapping you from progress?
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1This message came to me concerning Moab: In one night the town of Ar will be leveled, and the city of Kir will be destroyed.
2Your people will go to their temple in Dibon to mourn. They will go to their sacred shrines to weep. They will wail for the fate of Nebo and Medeba, shaving their heads in sorrow and cutting off their beards.
3They will wear burlap as they wander the streets. From every home and public square will come the sound of wailing.
4The people of Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out; their voices will be heard as far away as Jahaz! The bravest warriors of Moab will cry out in utter terror. They will be helpless with fear.
5My heart weeps for Moab. Its people flee to Zoar and Eglath-shelishiyah. Weeping, they climb the road to Luhith. Their cries of distress can be heard all along the road to Horonaim.
6Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up! The grassy banks are scorched. The tender plants are gone; nothing green remains.
7The people grab their possessions and carry them across the Ravine of Willows.
8A cry of distress echoes through the land of Moab from one end to the other— from Eglaim to Beer-elim.
9The stream near Dibon runs red with blood, but I am still not finished with Dibon! Lions will hunt down the survivors— both those who try to escape and those who remain behind.
“How you experience life depends on your personal set of optics.”~TB
Some of us have perfect vision— able to see things without sight. For those of us that don’t, we need glasses to correct our impairment. With the aid of glasses, I am able to see things far away that I otherwise cannot. Boy would the world be in trouble if I drove without the help of glasses or contacts. In the same manner in which we see, our personal relationship with Christ allows us to improve our vision as Christians. In faith, we all have to wear our Christ-prescribed glasses, because without them we either can’t see up close, far out, or not at all. When we walk without God’s help the optics are skewed as we fail to see what really is and what really isn’t.
When you narrow in on the problems and failures of your life, your sight is myopic and useless. Like walking into a wall repeatedly, your vision is so constricted that the minutiae and little things of life become the big and impossible thorns in your side. If all you see in life is the negative or what you lack, it’s time to ask God to help you dilate your sight so that you can see the bigger picture.
A widened perspective is important to help see the grand scheme of things. However, without the details of Christ, we are unable to see the nuances of God’s handbook, the Bible, which helps teach us how to spend our time. Too wide of a lens can make us paralyzed or obtuse in our thinking because we lack the focus to process what we see properly. If you’re in this camp, God’s got the right prescription for you too.
Life is messy, imperfect, and full of tests that we pass, fail, and repeat. Human understanding of life is futile because our black and white vision pales in comparison to God’s vision. In order to get a glimpse at God’s view, we must allow Him to prescribe the correct sight. Your 20/20 vision isn’t going to cut it on it’s own. Fortunately for us, God’s insurance plan is free and only requires us to accept the gift of salvation. If you’re tired of not seeing the full picture or need help seeing the important details ask our Holy Optometrist to give you the right vision.
Are you content with remaining blind?
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1But the LORD will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel.
2The nations of the world will help the people of Israel to return, and those who come to live in the LORD ’s land will serve them. Those who captured Israel will themselves be captured, and Israel will rule over its enemies.
3In that wonderful day when the LORD gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains,
4you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say, “The mighty man has been destroyed. Yes, your insolence is ended.
5For the LORD has crushed your wicked power and broken your evil rule.
6You struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny.
7But finally the earth is at rest and quiet. Now it can sing again!
8Even the trees of the forest— the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon— sing out this joyous song: ‘Since you have been cut down, no one will come now to cut us down!’
9“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you.
10With one voice they all cry out, ‘Now you are as weak as we are!
11Your might and power were buried with you. The sound of the harp in your palace has ceased. Now maggots are your sheet, and worms your blanket.’
12“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north.
14I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’
15Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.
16Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?
17Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’
18“The kings of the nations lie in stately glory, each in his own tomb,
19but you will be thrown out of your grave like a worthless branch. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will be dumped into a mass grave with those killed in battle. You will descend to the pit.
20You will not be given a proper burial, for you have destroyed your nation and slaughtered your people. The descendants of such an evil person will never again receive honor.
21Kill this man’s children! Let them die because of their father’s sins! They must not rise and conquer the earth, filling the world with their cities.”
22This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “I, myself, have risen against Babylon! I will destroy its children and its children’s children,” says the LORD .
23“I will make Babylon a desolate place of owls, filled with swamps and marshes. I will sweep the land with the broom of destruction. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
24The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.
25I will break the Assyrians when they are in Israel; I will trample them on my mountains. My people will no longer be their slaves nor bow down under their heavy loads.
26I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations.
27The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?”
28This message came to me the year King Ahaz died:
29Do not rejoice, you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken— that the king who attacked you is dead. For from that snake a more poisonous snake will be born, a fiery serpent to destroy you!
30I will feed the poor in my pasture; the needy will lie down in peace. But as for you, I will wipe you out with famine and destroy the few who remain.
31Wail at the gates! Weep in the cities! Melt with fear, you Philistines! A powerful army comes like smoke from the north. Each soldier rushes forward eager to fight.
32What should we tell the Philistine messengers? Tell them, “The LORD has built Jerusalem ; its walls will give refuge to his oppressed people.”