“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.”
“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.
“Your ability to see things from Christ’s ultimately depends on your vantage point.”~TB
We are all given senses and common sense to understand how to navigate the ways of this world. We are also given the choice to be in relationship with our Father in Heaven so that he can give us the Biblical compass to lead lives that bring honor to Him. Using Christ’s compass sharpens our senses, giving us the ability to see things from a Christ-like perspective. Alternatively, using your own vantage point will give you a finite and inaccurate understanding of a flawed world. But friends, just because we are broken does not mean that God’s perspective is. Understand this distinction.
Man’s viewpoint is flawed and judgmental as we are unable to fully understand or practice mercy, grace and forgiveness in our own right. To the undisciplined and untrained, behaviors like submission and forgiveness seem foolish. That is because the ego and flesh tells us that our understanding of right and wrong is correct! From a legalistic standpoint, everything is black and white. In this mindset, it’s ok to judge and condemn your neighbors, family, and friends when they screw up or offend. It’s ok to rob and enslave the naive because they ‘should’ know better and technically you did not break the law. But don’t be fooled, the wicked may seem successful, but according to who’s vantage point?
Friend’s God’s ways are infinite and never fully understood by man. We lack the ability! Fortunately, what is true and what we can rely on is that this life is not as unpredictable as we like to believe. Look at all of the stories in the Bible. If you read them enough, you will see the behaviors and patterns from old have the same themes of your own. Just adopt God’s vantage point, and you will see that His people do the same good, dumb, shameful, repentant deeds since Adam and Eve. These are the same stories, just different people and different times. So in whatever you do, take His vantage point so that you can see the world and its people as God sees you.
How does the view look from where’ you’re sitting?
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1Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
3You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
6For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
8The Lord has spoken out against Jacob; his judgment has fallen upon Israel.
9And the people of Israel and Samaria, who spoke with such pride and arrogance, will soon know it.
10They said, “We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with finished stone, and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with cedars.”
11But the LORD will bring Rezin’s enemies against Israel and stir up all their foes.
12The Syrians from the east and the Philistines from the west will bare their fangs and devour Israel. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
13For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent. They will not seek the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
14Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.
15The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail.
16For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction.
17That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
18This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke.
19The land will be blackened by the fury of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people will be fuel for the fire, and no one will spare even his own brother.
20They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children.
21Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
“God’s love is not contingent on your behavior.”~TB
Salvation is not merit-based. Thank God— literally— as none of us would measure up. Still, even though we know this, many believe that God is waiting to love the ‘new and improved’ version of us. Like, if we could only sin less, be nicer to our neighbors, do more for the community, etc. then God would love us. No, God loves us in our stupor, our good moments, and the not so great ones. Part of growing with God is understanding how immeasurable His love is. That way we stop trying to attain it and recognize that His love is already ours.
Being unconditionally loved is a near impossible concept for many, which is why we mistake God’s unconditional love for the warped perception that we may have. Sure, parents get pretty close to it, but even still, God’s love is greater. If you’re able to glean how He loves us and sees us, only then can you begin to move in His ways and teachings. Like Jesus on Earth, He sat with everyone and judged no one. Granted we all fall short of this mark, but experiencing His grace when we do fall, is a wonderful thing. So the next time you’re trying to be a Super Christian— sinless and perfect— remember that God’s love is eternal and unconditional. The best way we can mirror this is to try and pass on that same love and grace to one another.
Why are you overcompensating for something that is already yours?
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1Then the LORD said to me, “Make a large signboard and clearly write this name on it: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. ”
2I asked Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah, both known as honest men, to witness my doing this.
3Then I slept with my wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, “Call him Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
4For before this child is old enough to say ‘Papa’ or ‘Mama,’ the king of Assyria will carry away both the abundance of Damascus and the riches of Samaria.”
5Then the LORD spoke to me again and said,
6“My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it. They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.
7Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria and all his glory. This flood will overflow all its channels
8and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep. It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.
9“Huddle together, you nations, and be terrified. Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, but you will be crushed! Yes, prepare for battle, but you will be crushed!
10Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us! ”
11The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,
12“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.
13Make the LORD of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.
14He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
15Many will stumble and fall, never to rise again. They will be snared and captured.”
16Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me.
17I will wait for the LORD, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him.
18I and the children the LORD has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the LORD of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in his Temple on Mount Zion.
19Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?
20Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
21They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven
22and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.
“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.
“Focus in today’s tasks as tomorrow will have their own”~TB
It is a waste of time to spend today paralyzed worrying about the unknowns of tomorrow. By not tilling the soil today, you are jeopardizing your harvest of the future. Don’t be the maker of your own futility as there are other obstacles that will surely keep you busy. Quit worrying and focus on what God has asked you to do.
To focus, hone in on God‘s word and live your life according to his principles. That way you are keeping your eyes on what is that above, avoiding the pitfalls are trying to control something you have no jurisdiction over. Trust in His perfect timing by dwelling in his perfect peace so that your focus is on the right thing.
What are you focusing on?
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1These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
2Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me.
3Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care— but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
4Oh, what a sinful nation they are— loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the LORD . They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.
5Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick.
6You are battered from head to foot— covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds— without any soothing ointments or bandages.
7Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see.
8Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman’s shelter in a vineyard, like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest, like a helpless city under siege.
9If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.
10Listen to the LORD, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
11“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD . “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.
14I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.
17Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
18“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD . “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
19If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.
20But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
21See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers.
22Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine.
23Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows.
24Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, “I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes!
25I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities.
26Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.”
27Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness.
28But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who desert the LORD will be consumed.
29You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks. You will blush because you worshiped in gardens dedicated to idols.
30You will be like a great tree with withered leaves, like a garden without water.
31The strongest among you will disappear like straw; their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire. They and their evil works will burn up together, and no one will be able to put out the fire.
“Don’t try to fight your battles on your own unless you want to be in a constant tug of war with your flesh, the world, and the devil.”~TB
It’s important to know your opposition, weaknesses, and stumbling blocks because in the battle for your mind, body, and soul, all bets are off. Your flesh won’t fight fair, neither will the world or the evil one. This isn’t to say that you should fear these things. No, but to understand what you’re dealing with gives you the reality that you need God to intervene so that you can win the war.
When you’re sick of struggling to deal with the thorn in your side, ask God to join your team. With Him on your side, your game of tug of war is no match for the opposing team. Christ is like having the best player as a teammate, as you are able to rely on His Power to make up what you lack. To experience this, you must know that the battle cannot be won on your own accord. Get on Team Jesus so that He can thwart the enemy.
Are you ready to stop playing tug of war on your own?
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Song of Solomon 8
1Oh, I wish you were my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts. Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me.
2I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine.
3Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me.
4Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.
5Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on her lover? Young Woman I aroused you under the apple tree, where your mother gave you birth, where in great pain she delivered you.
6Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.
7Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
8We have a little sister too young to have breasts. What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her?
9If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.
10I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.
11Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit.
12But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines.
13O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too!
14Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
“Master your mind so that you know exactly whom you serve.”~TB
When you serve yourself, your ability to love is limited to the knowledge you possess, which isn’t much. Because humans are flawed, our way of thinking will always be imperfect, especially compared to the mind of Christ. Self serving behavior will always bring your problems because your intentions aren’t rooted in Christ’s standards. Your mind will trick you into believing you are mightier than you are and that the things of this world are worth desiring. If left unchecked, soon you will be serving too many false-gods, leaving you confused, and off task. Put your pride away and switch masters.
When you serve God, things like humility, compassion, love, and forgiveness are easier to give, because you’re focusing on the mind of Christ and not your own. Being flawed does not mean you are self-loathing or putting yourself down. No, it means you understand who has made you and why we must connect to Him to make up the difference. Your mind becomes disciplined and focused on the things of above, rejecting the things of the world. And through His love and only His love can we begin to receive the peace, joy, and understanding that comes from being His.
Where does your mind go when it wanders?
Song of Solomon 5
1I have entered my garden, my treasure, my bride! I gather myrrh with my spices and eat honeycomb with my honey. I drink wine with my milk. Young Women of Jerusalem Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!
2I slept, but my heart was awake, when I heard my lover knocking and calling: “Open to me, my treasure, my darling, my dove, my perfect one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3But I responded, “I have taken off my robe. Should I get dressed again? I have washed my feet. Should I get them soiled?”
4My lover tried to unlatch the door, and my heart thrilled within me.
5I jumped up to open the door for my love, and my hands dripped with perfume. My fingers dripped with lovely myrrh as I pulled back the bolt.
6I opened to my lover, but he was gone! My heart sank. I searched for him but could not find him anywhere. I called to him, but there was no reply.
7The night watchmen found me as they made their rounds. They beat and bruised me and stripped off my veil, those watchmen on the walls.
8Make this promise, O women of Jerusalem— If you find my lover, tell him I am weak with love.
9Why is your lover better than all others, O woman of rare beauty? What makes your lover so special that we must promise this?
10My lover is dark and dazzling, better than ten thousand others!
11His head is finest gold, his wavy hair is black as a raven.
12His eyes sparkle like doves beside springs of water; they are set like jewels washed in milk.
13His cheeks are like gardens of spices giving off fragrance. His lips are like lilies, perfumed with myrrh.
14His arms are like rounded bars of gold, set with beryl. His body is like bright ivory, glowing with lapis lazuli.
15His legs are like marble pillars set in sockets of finest gold. His posture is stately, like the noble cedars of Lebanon.
16His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.