“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
“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.
“When the Hand of God changes your life, going back is futile and useless.”~TB
When a radical change has occurred in your life, finding your footing can be tough. It’s like a chasm or opening where new opportunities— good or bad— can take root. Patterns and habits from your previous existence no longer bring you the same joy as they once did. But, sometimes knowing where to go next brings more questions than answers and it can be stressful. If you look at the story of Lot’s wife, it can be tough to understand why she was turned into a pillar of salt. All she did was look back, what’s the harm in that? But, if you look at it metaphorically, it’s easier to comprehend. When we begin a new life in Christ, the old stuff cannot remain. It’s kind of like shedding skin if you think about it. The discipline lies in having the courage and faith to move forward without craving the life you once led.
I’ll be honest, when you change into who God has called you to be, you will lose your previous identity and sometimes that means the people you once did life with. It can be an isolating and strange experience if you don’t reach out when necessary. The one thing I’ve learned is that a blank canvas scares many people. After all, our society paints a supposed blueprint for this thing called “life” so when a plan gets blown up, having the imagination and fortitude to start something new can be terrifying. It’s probably why many turn back to old behavior, because it’s comforting or familiar. But, what if the unknown held something better? If we can reconcile the fears we hold in our minds and rely on the vision that God provides, moving forward doesn’t seem all that scary. The trick is to hold onto faith when doing so.
Are you stuck in your past?
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1In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
2Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter.
3You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
5He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust.
6The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it.
7But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
8LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
9In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.
10Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong and take no notice of the LORD ’s majesty.
11O LORD, they pay no attention to your upraised fist. Show them your eagerness to defend your people. Then they will be ashamed. Let your fire consume your enemies.
12LORD, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.
13O LORD our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship.
14Those we served before are dead and gone. Their departed spirits will never return! You attacked them and destroyed them, and they are long forgotten.
15O LORD, you have made our nation great; yes, you have made us great. You have extended our borders, and we give you the glory!
16LORD, in distress we searched for you. We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline.
17Just as a pregnant woman writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth, so were we in your presence, LORD .
18We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world.
19But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!
20Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD ’s anger has passed.
21Look! The LORD is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see.
“If God thinks we’re all that and a bag of chips, then the opinions that we hold of each other don’t really matter.”~TB
A few years ago, I was helping my dad out by teaching his elementary school kids music a few kids at a time. This way, each kid could get some individualized attention on how to improve and whatnot. There was one kid who wasn’t quite getting it though I believed I was providing the best instruction possible. In my head, I figured he just couldn’t get it and wrote him off (I still worked with him, but I didn’t have high hopes). A few minutes later, my dad comes in checking out our progress. He goes through the kids that got it and stops to listen to the trumpet kid. My dad broke down the music and showed the kid how to play in a way that he understood. Moments later, the kid sounded like he knew what he was doing after all! Surprised, I immediately felt terrible for failing to see the potential that my dad saw. I’m grateful that teacher’s like my dad exist, because they see the value in every student, not just the ones they understand. More to the point, that experience showed me how dismissive we can be when we don’t see the value in each other. I’ll give you another example.
Last year, I decided to work with a startup in the financial services industry. The pay was significantly lower than my general fee, but since there was a lot of work to be done, I took it (On a side note, never work for less than you’re worth, if you can and never work with cheap people, it will not end well). Admittedly, I didn’t put my best foot forward, but the work was still good by any standard. The content manager quickly came back and told me my grammar was terrible and my rate didn’t justify the quality of work (I had negotiated a slightly higher rate). We parted ways and I was relieved because I knew the deal was crap. Funnily enough, I signed a contract with Stanford University a mere few days later. Ironic, right? I share these stories to say that man’s standards and evaluations of one another are utter crap. Basically, this stuff is all relative. Some may sing your praises while others won’t think you’re worth more than a hill of beans. But God, however has the ultimate judgment and He values you more than another other creation. Think about that.
Maybe someone in your life made you feel like you weren’t worth much. Well, they’re wrong. No matter what state you’re in God loves you more than anything else in this world. So what if that person at work can’t see it? So what if the person you admire doesn’t value what you bring to the table? Your value, your worth does not come from man, so let people have their opinions and keep it moving. Plus if someone cannot see how wonderfully God made you, then clearly they are not meant to be in your life, and that’s totally ok. Society will tell you to adjust yourself to the standards of others. That mentality is utter crap because it produces fake people living a fake lifestyle. If you have to change your personality, clothes, or whatever to be likable or authentic, trust me friends, you are neither. So the next time you’re feeling low because of the flawed evaluations of your peers, pick up the Word and read all of the amazing things God has done through His people to give us the ultimate gift. You won’t be able to help but feel amazing.
Do you base your worth in relation to man or in relation to your Creator?
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1This message came to me concerning Jerusalem—the Valley of Vision : What is happening? Why is everyone running to the rooftops?
2The whole city is in a terrible uproar. What do I see in this reveling city? Bodies are lying everywhere, killed not in battle but by famine and disease.
3All your leaders have fled. They surrendered without resistance. The people tried to slip away, but they were captured, too.
4That’s why I said, “Leave me alone to weep; do not try to comfort me. Let me cry for my people as I watch them being destroyed.”
5Oh, what a day of crushing defeat! What a day of confusion and terror brought by the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, upon the Valley of Vision! The walls of Jerusalem have been broken, and cries of death echo from the mountainsides.
6Elamites are the archers, with their chariots and charioteers. The men of Kir hold up the shields.
7Chariots fill your beautiful valleys, and charioteers storm your gates.
8Judah’s defenses have been stripped away. You run to the armory for your weapons.
9You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem. You store up water in the lower pool.
10You survey the houses and tear some down for stone to strengthen the walls.
11Between the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.
12At that time the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse.
13But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
14The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has revealed this to me: “Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin.” That is the judgment of the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
15This is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, said to me: “Confront Shebna, the palace administrator, and give him this message:
16“Who do you think you are, and what are you doing here, building a beautiful tomb for yourself— a monument high up in the rock?
17For the LORD is about to hurl you away, mighty man. He is going to grab you,
18crumple you into a ball, and toss you away into a distant, barren land. There you will die, and your glorious chariots will be broken and useless. You are a disgrace to your master!
19“Yes, I will drive you out of office,” says the LORD . “I will pull you down from your high position.
20And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you.
21I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.
22I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.
23He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a nail in the wall.
24They will give him great responsibility, and he will bring honor to even the lowliest members of his family. ”
25But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies also says: “The time will come when I will pull out the nail that seemed so firm. It will come out and fall to the ground. Everything it supports will fall with it. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Imagine how great our relationship with God would be if we jumped through the same hoops of approval for Him as we do for the approval of one another.”~TB
I think a lot— much to my detriment. I also ask a lot of questions. People also seem to like to confide in me—whether I’m interested or not. I suppose I just have one of those faces. Anyway, I’m bringing this up because in all of my time on this earth, talks with people, and observations, it’s pretty clear that life is like the Matrix. I know, it’s a weird analogy, but hear me out. As a collective, humans have built this construct of “life” that most of us just blindly follow. Many of us are enslaved by the opinions of our peers, aka the Matrix. We’re basically strapped to a chair, downloading man made manuals on how to act, what to eat, who should be admired and who should be scorned, the list goes on and on. The problem with this indoctrination is that it is counterintuitive to the teachings of God. Even further, when we allow the opinions of others drive our belief systems and behaviors, we abdicate the ability to think for ourselves. And friends, that’s a dangerous precedent.
When you follow man, you are influenced by their sinful nature. There is not one single human being on this planet whose motives/ambitions are 100% pure. Sure, we try and have good intentions, but when it comes to direction, I’ll stick with my Father in Heaven. So why is this important? Well, when man has your ear, all of a sudden blatant sins become easily tolerated, celebrated, and even protected. As an individual, knowing what’s right and wrong is pretty simple. But in a group, people are liable to reason and rationalize why immoral behavior is right. So while you may know the truth, the battle lies in if you uphold it or fall prey to the pressure of conforming to your neighbors. It’s a tough choice that we all continually have to make. This is why quiet time with God, careful study of the Word, and counsel from the wise is critical for spiritual growth. Knowing God’s Truth gives you the understanding that your value comes from Him and not man. Wrapping your mind and spirit in the Word gives you the perspective and backbone to live righteously. But in order for us to get there, we must first get out of the Matrix and start seeing the way we were meant to.
Do you know where your worth comes from?
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1This message came to me concerning Damascus: “Look, the city of Damascus will disappear! It will become a heap of ruins.
2The towns of Aroer will be deserted. Flocks will graze in the streets and lie down undisturbed, with no one to chase them away.
3The fortified towns of Israel will also be destroyed, and the royal power of Damascus will end. All that remains of Syria will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory,” declares the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
4“In that day Israel’s glory will grow dim; its robust body will waste away.
5The whole land will look like a grainfield after the harvesters have gathered the grain. It will be desolate, like the fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.
6Only a few of its people will be left, like stray olives left on a tree after the harvest. Only two or three remain in the highest branches, four or five scattered here and there on the limbs,” declares the LORD, the God of Israel.
7Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
8They will no longer look to their idols for help or worship what their own hands have made. They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.
9Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest, like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when the Israelites came here so long ago. It will be utterly desolate.
10Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you. You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you. So you may plant the finest grapevines and import the most expensive seedlings.
11They may sprout on the day you set them out; yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them, but you will never pick any grapes from them. Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.
12Listen! The armies of many nations roar like the roaring of the sea. Hear the thunder of the mighty forces as they rush forward like thundering waves.
13But though they thunder like breakers on a beach, God will silence them, and they will run away. They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind, like a tumbleweed whirling before a storm.
14In the evening Israel waits in terror, but by dawn its enemies are dead. This is the just reward of those who plunder us, a fitting end for those who destroy us.
“In order to have a real relationship with God, you must first be real with yourself.”~TB
Our society has done a great job getting people to pretend to be something they are not. Many spend time chasing things and people that don’t actually align with who they are, what they value, and the list goes on. So, if you can’t even be real for your sake, how will you maintain a real relationship with God? He knows you, but do you know you?
God calls us for our own unique position and purpose. It takes certain characteristics and personalities to fill specific jobs. We are made according to our purpose. Of course, if I’m being you and you’re being me, how well can we fulfill our roles? Drop the act, stop being who you think you ought to be and be who God made you to be. It’s much easier than putting up a facade. More importantly, it’s how you grow deeper with your connection to Christ.
When you keep it real with God, the shame of what you ‘lack’ lessens because you know where to fill your cup. If you’re looking to the world to replenish your needs, you will always come up short and lacking. Knowing Christ’s identity and His purpose goes a long way in growing your maturity. When you’re young and dumb, the flashy glitter of the world is worth throwing away your authentic self for a pat on the back and a path to Hell. As you spiritually grow, you will value the realness of God and the unique qualities He has bestowed upon you.
Are you keeping it real or are you really faking it?
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1Isaiah son of Amoz received this message concerning the destruction of Babylon:
2“Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty.
3I, the LORD, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”
4Hear the noise on the mountains! Listen, as the vast armies march! It is the noise and shouting of many nations. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has called this army together.
5They come from distant countries, from beyond the farthest horizons. They are the LORD ’s weapons to carry out his anger. With them he will destroy the whole land.
6Scream in terror, for the day of the LORD has arrived— the time for the Almighty to destroy.
7Every arm is paralyzed with fear. Every heart melts,
8and people are terrified. Pangs of anguish grip them, like those of a woman in labor. They look helplessly at one another, their faces aflame with fear.
9For see, the day of the LORD is coming— the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it.
10The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light.
11“I, the LORD, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty.
12I will make people scarcer than gold— more rare than the fine gold of Ophir.
13For I will shake the heavens. The earth will move from its place when the LORD of Heaven’s Armies displays his wrath in the day of his fierce anger.”
14Everyone in Babylon will run about like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd. They will try to find their own people and flee to their own land.
15Anyone who is captured will be cut down— run through with a sword.
16Their little children will be dashed to death before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked, and their wives will be raped.
17“Look, I will stir up the Medes against Babylon. They cannot be tempted by silver or bribed with gold.
18The attacking armies will shoot down the young men with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for children.”
19Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, the flower of Chaldean pride, will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed them.
20Babylon will never be inhabited again. It will remain empty for generation after generation. Nomads will refuse to camp there, and shepherds will not bed down their sheep.
21Desert animals will move into the ruined city, and the houses will be haunted by howling creatures. Owls will live among the ruins, and wild goats will go there to dance.
22Hyenas will howl in its fortresses, and jackals will make dens in its luxurious palaces. Babylon’s days are numbered; its time of destruction will soon arrive.
“Be diligent in the tasks you have to complete because your reward comes from God, not man.”~TB
Exploitation of workers is nothing new and can be traced back all the way to the beginning of man. Just ask the Israelites. Today, many work for pennies on the dollar all the while employers act like you’re supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to make them richer. Fortunately, our reward does not come from our employers but from God.
Even when the scales of this world are tipped in the favor of the wicked, God will balance them for those He sees fit. Keep an honest account of your work, your habits, and how you treat your neighbors. Even when those who seek to take what you have without payment, God will repay you and then some. So when you experience unfair situations from corrupt employers, focus on your task so that God can give you a raise.
Do you know who you’re working for?
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1 What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws.
2 They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.
3What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe?
4 You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
5 “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger.
6 I am sending Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.
7 But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation.
8 He will say, ‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.
9 We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish. Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.
10 Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
11 So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’”
12 After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant.
13 He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
14 I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”
15 But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
16 Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory.
17 The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
18 The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
19 Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive— so few that a child could count them!
20 In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
22 But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant of them will return. The LORD has rightly decided to destroy his people.
23 Yes, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has already decided to destroy the entire land.
24 So this is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago.
25 In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.”
26 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the LORD ’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.
27 In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.
28 Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath. They are passing through Migron and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
29 They are crossing the pass and are camping at Geba. Fear strikes the town of Ramah. All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, are running for their lives.
30 Scream in terror, you people of Gallim! Shout out a warning to Laishah. Oh, poor Anathoth!
31 There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing. The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.
32 The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day. He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
33 But look! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down.
34 He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.
“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.
“Do you not fear your darkest hour because to fully realize God’s grace, you must know what he is sparing you from.”~TB
If I could give any advice to people— young and old— I would tell them to reject the teachings and ideas of the world. If you believe them, your perception and understanding of God’s will always be distorted. People tell each other the dumbest things, that have nothing to do with God, His grace, or even what His will is in your life. The world will sooner tell you it’s ok to become a unicorn rather than acknowledge God’s existence. The world and its ways are upside down. This is especially true when it comes to hard times and bad events
Dark Times produce the purest fruit, because whatever leaves wasn’t necessary and whatever remains is what will see you through. Your darkest hour will reveal how much you truly need the Lord and that all things work according to His plan. Humility and submission will open your eyes to what exactly is going on around you. In hard times, look to see the lessons. Remember that those tough moments didn’t break you. No, you survived! When you are spared from these crazy moments, you then realize that God’s Will is the only way. Surviving harsh times makes you grateful for salvation and everything in between. So the next time you’re being tested or going through a struggle, let God guide you through the moment.
Are you learning from your darkest hour or is bitterness setting in?
Enjoy the reading
Song of Solomon 7
1How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O queenly maiden. Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a skilled craftsman.
2Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies.
3Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle.
4Your neck is as beautiful as an ivory tower. Your eyes are like the sparkling pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is as fine as the tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus.
5Your head is as majestic as Mount Carmel, and the sheen of your hair radiates royalty. The king is held captive by its tresses.
6Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!
7You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.
8I said, “I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like grape clusters, and the fragrance of your breath like apples.
9May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— Young Woman Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10I am my lover’s, and he claims me as his own.
11Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers.
12Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.
13There the mandrakes give off their fragrance, and the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover.
“In order to get your attention, God will allow uncomfortable situations to occur to shake you from your zombie-like state.”~TB
The next time you’re in public, like in a store, take a look and observe your surroundings. It’s not hard to see that we operate like zombies, mindlessly plugged into things, not fully present. Society is so numb with gadgets and the constant need for entertainment, it’s no wonder why people are struggling to feel something real. Everything is manufactured and designed for instant gratification! There are so many distractions, devices, and the like that keep us from truly knowing God. Friends, you have to get out of your mindless routines and seek the Lord with all of your attention and heart. If you desire an authentic relationship with God, don’t be surprised if certain things, behaviors or people are uprooted from your life in the process. It is called pruning for a reason.
Seasons of setbacks, discomfort, and loss aren’t always bad things or from the opposition. Comfort numbs us from thinking we need to change. Complacency is more dangerous than external forces, which is why God will shake things up for those who seek Him. In those moments, self-reflection is crucial for you to grow in Christ, because with the wrong set of eyes, you can mistake correction for persecution. It’s easy to become frustrated in your walk and wonder ‘why me’. However, if you can look past how you feel and look at your life with an honest heart, you will find that God is showing you something. Some of you are numb, getting by, forgoing your calling. Others are exploiting others’ work and not tilling their own soil. Wherever you are, if you’ve knocked on God’s door and He’s shaken you from your zombie life, rejoice! Look and listen carefully to learn what He is showing you.
Song of Solomon 4
1You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
2Your teeth are as white as sheep, recently shorn and freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
3Your lips are like scarlet ribbon; your mouth is inviting. Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
4Your neck is as beautiful as the tower of David, jeweled with the shields of a thousand heroes.
5Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies.
6Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.
7You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.
8Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Come down from Mount Amana, from the peaks of Senir and Hermon, where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills.
9You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.
10Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.
11Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon.
12You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.
13Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices— henna with nard,
14nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice.
15You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains.
16Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.