It’s easy to have it in your head that you know what should happen and when it should happen. Like a manager expecting deliverables from their employees, we tend to view God as the genie to our wishes. Or how foolish we can be.
God’s timeline works in ways that we will never fully understand, but one thing is for certain, His plan arrives on time. Friends, we are not God. There are things that He will allow to play out so that we may come to rely on Him, so sit tight and learn.
Are youbeing patient in God’s timeline?
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1 “When the LORD your God destroys the nations whose land he is giving you, you will take over their land and settle in their towns and homes. 2 Then you must set apart three cities of refuge in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 3 Survey the territory, and divide the land the LORD your God is giving you into three districts, with one of these cities in each district. Then anyone who has killed someone can flee to one of the cities of refuge for safety. 4 “If someone kills another person unintentionally, without previous hostility, the slayer may flee to any of these cities to live in safety. 5 For example, suppose someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to cut wood. And suppose one of them swings an ax to chop down a tree, and the ax head flies off the handle, killing the other person. In such cases, the slayer may flee to one of the cities of refuge to live in safety. 6 “If the distance to the nearest city of refuge is too far, an enraged avenger might be able to chase down and kill the person who caused the death. Then the slayer would die unfairly, since he had never shown hostility toward the person who died. 7 That is why I am commanding you to set aside three cities of refuge. 8 “And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors, and gives you all the land he promised them, 9 you must designate three additional cities of refuge. (He will give you this land if you are careful to obey all the commands I have given you—if you always love the LORD your God and walk in his ways.) 10 That way you will prevent the death of innocent people in the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession. You will not be held responsible for the death of innocent people. 11 “But suppose someone is hostile toward a neighbor and deliberately ambushes and murders him and then flees to one of the cities of refuge. 12 In that case, the elders of the murderer’s hometown must send agents to the city of refuge to bring him back and hand him over to the dead person’s avenger to be put to death. 13 Do not feel sorry for that murderer! Purge from Israel the guilt of murdering innocent people; then all will go well with you. 14 “When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession, you must never steal anyone’s land by moving the boundary markers your ancestors set up to mark their property. 15 “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 16 “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime, 17 then both the accuser and accused must appear before the LORD by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time. 18 The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite, 19 you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you. 20 Then the rest of the people will hear about it and be afraid to do such an evil thing. 21 You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
“When you understand that God is the beginning and center of all things, then you can fully understand and walk in your purpose.”
You have the option of centering your life around God or centering it around yourself. While God permits either option, trust me that they offer vastly different outcomes. Because God is love, without Him, you can never truly understand what love is, therefore you set a different precedent that is based on shot-sighted human thinking. But friends reconcile yourselves to hear God as He calls you because we all have the opportunity and choice to live in the Truth. When you choose to accept God’s sovereignty over your life, He gives you the gift of understanding.
To live according to yourself is to live without understanding Who made you and how you fit into His plan. Sure, according to man, you can be successful, but truly, a human-driven life stunts the reality and miraculousness that God shares with those who pick up their cross and follow Him. In walking with God, you learn who you are according to Who made you. You begin to understand what unconditional love, mercy, and grace actually mean. Most importantly, you find the joy of following God, not for the perks, but because He is.
What centers you?
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1 About this time, Judah left home and moved to Adullam, where he stayed with a man named Hirah. 2 There he saw a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua, and he married her. When he slept with her, 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he named the boy Er. 4 Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son, and she named him Onan. 5 And when she gave birth to a third son, she named him Shelah. At the time of Shelah’s birth, they were living at Kezib. 6 In the course of time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. 7 But Er was a wicked man in the LORD ’s sight, so the LORD took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.” 9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10 But the LORD considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the LORD took Onan’s life, too. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Go back to your parents’ home and remain a widow until my son Shelah is old enough to marry you.” (But Judah didn’t really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went back to live in her father’s home. 12 Some years later Judah’s wife died. After the time of mourning was over, Judah and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah to supervise the shearing of his sheep. 13 Someone told Tamar, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 Tamar was aware that Shelah had grown up, but no arrangements had been made for her to come and marry him. So she changed out of her widow’s clothing and covered herself with a veil to disguise herself. Then she sat beside the road at the entrance to the village of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. 15 Judah noticed her and thought she was a prostitute, since she had covered her face. 16 So he stopped and propositioned her. “Let me have sex with you,” he said, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law. “How much will you pay to have sex with me?” Tamar asked. 17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” Judah promised. “But what will you give me to guarantee that you will send the goat?” she asked. 18 “What kind of guarantee do you want?” he replied. She answered, “Leave me your identification seal and its cord and the walking stick you are carrying.” So Judah gave them to her. Then he had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. 19 Afterward she went back home, took off her veil, and put on her widow’s clothing as usual. 20 Later Judah asked his friend Hirah the Adullamite to take the young goat to the woman and to pick up the things he had given her as his guarantee. But Hirah couldn’t find her. 21 So he asked the men who lived there, “Where can I find the shrine prostitute who was sitting beside the road at the entrance to Enaim?” “We’ve never had a shrine prostitute here,” they replied. 22 So Hirah returned to Judah and told him, “I couldn’t find her anywhere, and the men of the village claim they’ve never had a shrine prostitute there.” 23 “Then let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah said. “I sent the young goat as we agreed, but you couldn’t find her. We’d be the laughingstock of the village if we went back again to look for her.” 24 About three months later, Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.” “Bring her out, and let her be burned!” Judah demanded. 25 But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “The man who owns these things made me pregnant. Look closely. Whose seal and cord and walking stick are these?” 26 Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again. 27 When the time came for Tamar to give birth, it was discovered that she was carrying twins. 28 While she was in labor, one of the babies reached out his hand. The midwife grabbed it and tied a scarlet string around the child’s wrist, announcing, “This one came out first.” 29 But then he pulled back his hand, and out came his brother! “What!” the midwife exclaimed. “How did you break out first?” So he was named Perez. 30 Then the baby with the scarlet string on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.
“To proclaim love for the Lord but to desire worldly pursuits is like a dog chasing its tail.”
When we know God, we also know what is wrong and what is right. But an untamed heart, mind, and flesh will always crave the things of this world. When pride and ego are your only friends, words of wisdom sound foolish, and foolish words seem wise. In this flesh-driven thinking, you’ll find yourself repeating the same mistakes over and over, like a distracted animal.
So, how is it that we still chase after the things that are not of God? That’s because the flesh will always lead us into temptation, but if we strengthen our resolve to follow Christ first, we can minimize our sinful nature. This occurs when we limit worldly influence, cling to the Word of Christ, and spend time with those who eagerly seek Him as well.
Are you done running around in circles chasing your tail?
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1 What sorrow awaits Nineveh, the city of murder and lies! She is crammed with wealth and is never without victims. 2 Hear the crack of whips, the rumble of wheels! Horses’ hooves pound, and chariots clatter wildly. 3 See the flashing swords and glittering spears as the charioteers charge past! There are countless casualties, heaps of bodies— so many bodies that people stumble over them. 4 All this because Nineveh, the beautiful and faithless city, mistress of deadly charms, enticed the nations with her beauty. She taught them all her magic, enchanting people everywhere. 5 “I am your enemy!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “And now I will lift your skirts and show all the earth your nakedness and shame. 6 I will cover you with filth and show the world how vile you really are. 7 All who see you will shrink back and say, ‘Nineveh lies in ruins. Where are the mourners?’ Does anyone regret your destruction?” 8 Are you any better than the city of Thebes, situated on the Nile River, surrounded by water? She was protected by the river on all sides, walled in by water. 9 Ethiopia and the land of Egypt gave unlimited assistance. The nations of Put and Libya were among her allies. 10 Yet Thebes fell, and her people were led away as captives. Her babies were dashed to death against the stones of the streets. Soldiers threw dice to get Egyptian officers as servants. All their leaders were bound in chains. 11 And you, Nineveh, will also stagger like a drunkard. You will hide for fear of the attacking enemy. 12 All your fortresses will fall. They will be devoured like the ripe figs that fall into the mouths of those who shake the trees. 13 Your troops will be as weak and helpless as women. The gates of your land will be opened wide to the enemy and set on fire and burned. 14 Get ready for the siege! Store up water! Strengthen the defenses! Go into the pits to trample clay, and pack it into molds, making bricks to repair the walls. 15 But the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you down. The enemy will consume you like locusts, devouring everything they see. There will be no escape, even if you multiply like swarming locusts. 16 Your merchants have multiplied until they outnumber the stars. But like a swarm of locusts, they strip the land and fly away. 17 Your guards and officials are also like swarming locusts that crowd together in the hedges on a cold day. But like locusts that fly away when the sun comes up, all of them will fly away and disappear. 18 Your shepherds are asleep, O Assyrian king; your princes lie dead in the dust. Your people are scattered across the mountains with no one to gather them together. 19 There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?
“When we fail to learn and enact the teachings of Christ we are contributing to our own downfall.”
When you continually study and walk with God, you understand His impact on the past, present, and future people. While God does permit us to walk in our free will, observe how this gift can become even the wisest of man’s downfall. This happens when we believe we are too good for God’s wisdom and are dumb enough to think we can live in sin without consequence.
Consider King Solomon, one of the wisest of all people. In his youth, he managed to lead and judge people according to the teachings of Christ. He was incredibly successful until he decided to allow his flesh to lead to his kingdom’s destruction. Taking up with many women (700 wives and 300 concubines, sheesh!), King Solomon’s heart was corrupted, deserting the wisdom God had given him.
Friends, you may be leading a double-life, on the surface praising God, but behind clothes doors, worshipping your flesh. While Solomon went down in history for his wisdom, it wasn’t all that great if you look at the later stages of his life. Just because God allowed him to be foolish did not mean that Solomon had His approval. So take a hard, honest look at your life and its path before your foolishness catches up with you.
Are you dumb enough to believe that your wicked ways won’t lead to a downfall?
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1 Your enemy is coming to crush you, Nineveh. Man the ramparts! Watch the roads! Prepare your defenses! Call out your forces! 2 Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the LORD will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor. 3 Shields flash red in the sunlight! See the scarlet uniforms of the valiant troops! Watch as their glittering chariots move into position, with a forest of spears waving above them. 4 The chariots race recklessly along the streets and rush wildly through the squares. They flash like firelight and move as swiftly as lightning. 5 The king shouts to his officers; they stumble in their haste, rushing to the walls to set up their defenses. 6 The river gates have been torn open! The palace is about to collapse! 7 Nineveh’s exile has been decreed, and all the servant girls mourn its capture. They moan like doves and beat their breasts in sorrow. 8 Nineveh is like a leaking water reservoir! The people are slipping away. “Stop, stop!” someone shouts, but no one even looks back. 9 Loot the silver! Plunder the gold! There’s no end to Nineveh’s treasures— its vast, uncounted wealth. 10 Soon the city is plundered, empty, and ruined. Hearts melt and knees shake. The people stand aghast, their faces pale and trembling. 11 Where now is that great Nineveh, that den filled with young lions? It was a place where people—like lions and their cubs— walked freely and without fear. 12 The lion tore up meat for his cubs and strangled prey for his mate. He filled his den with prey, his caverns with his plunder. 13 “I am your enemy!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your chariots will soon go up in smoke. Your young men will be killed in battle. Never again will you plunder conquered nations. The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.” Nahum 1Nahum 3 Parallel Compare
“Learn to enjoy and practice honest, straight-up work.”
Here’s a tip, if you desire to live a Christ-led life, do the opposite of what the world teaches you. This also includes the misconception of an honest day’s work. While society touts riches and rewards for superficial deeds, there is deep and profound wisdom gained in laboring for the Lord.
Honest work develops disciplined and steadfast hands. There is something to be said when you’re able to admire the fruits of your labor. That same honest, humble work ethic applies to the work we put into knowing God. When you learn to enjoy seeking Him, you can consider the labor as joy.
Are you straight-up working or straight-up lying?
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1 “At the time of those events,” says the LORD, “when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. 3 They threw dice to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk. 4 “What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, then watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. 5 You have taken my silver and gold and all my precious treasures, and have carried them off to your pagan temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, so they could take them far from their homeland. 7 “But I will bring them back from all the places to which you sold them, and I will pay you back for everything you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the people of Arabia, a nation far away. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9 Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. 10 Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. 11 Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O LORD, call out your warriors! 12 “Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the LORD, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” 14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. 16 The LORD ’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel. 17 “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again. 18 In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the LORD ’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will become a wasteland and Edom will become a wilderness, because they attacked the people of Judah and killed innocent people in their land. 20 “But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations. 21 I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the LORD, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.”
“Learn to listen to your brothers and sisters with a loving ear.”
We display Christ’s teachings when we listen to each other with love and grace. More often than not, we respond with legalistic rhetoric, when really, the person needs a kind word. It’s easy to correct a downfallen neighbor, but it takes divine wisdom to show them grace. Notice how God treats you when you fall. It’s not with a harsh or haughty rebuke, but like a father lovingly picking you up after you’ve fallen and scraped a knee. If you aspire to be wise, show grace and love.
When we treat others as God treats us, we exemplify Kingdom traits, encouraging others to draw closer to Him. Friends, it is not our job to be religious, but to rather share the Gift that has been freely given to us. When you realize that Christ-like love is the formula for sharing the Good News, God can then impart wisdom within you to carry out the goal. Graceful wisdom builds Christ-bearing relationships. So when your brother or sister becomes discouraged, remember to lead with grace and love.
Are you leading with grace?
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1 “I want to heal Israel, but its sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars. Thieves are on the inside and bandits on the outside! 2 Its people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all. 3 “The people entertain the king with their wickedness, and the princes laugh at their lies. 4 They are all adulterers, always aflame with lust. They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough. 5 On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine, carousing with those who mock them. 6 Their hearts are like an oven blazing with intrigue. Their plot smolders through the night, and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire. 7 Burning like an oven, they consume their leaders. They kill their kings one after another, and no one cries to me for help. 8 “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! 9 Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. 10 Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the LORD their God or even try to find him. 11 “The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help. 12 But as they fly about, I will throw my net over them and bring them down like a bird from the sky. I will punish them for all the evil they do. 13 “What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. 14 They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead, they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine, and they turn away from me. 15 I trained them and made them strong, yet now they plot evil against me. 16 They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow. Their leaders will be killed by their enemies because of their insolence toward me. Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them.
“In order to embark on a lifelong journey with Christ, you have to accept that growth will always be a constant endeavor.”
Whether you’ve been walking with God for 3 months or 30 years, there will always be something He can teach you. God’s lessons are infinite and everlasting, which means we will spend our lifetime learning and still not know everything. Fortunately for us, He is patient and kind, tipping the scale for His children.
We stop learning when we begin to (foolishly) believe we know more than everyone else. Friends, that is simply not so. Even the wisest can still be humbled by a child or even a donkey! Of course, pride is human nature, which is why we have to be vigilant in our behaviors, practicing humility by asking God to reveal our next lessons. When you stop to ask Him for new lesson plans, He will bless you with a deeper understanding drawing you closer to Him.
Do you still think you’re the smartest person in the room?
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1 “Here is the list of the tribes of Israel and the territory each is to receive. The territory of Dan is in the extreme north. Its boundary line follows the Hethlon road to Lebo-hamath and then runs on to Hazar-enan on the border of Damascus, with Hamath to the north. Dan’s territory extends all the way across the land of Israel from east to west. 2 “Asher’s territory lies south of Dan’s and also extends from east to west. 3 Naphtali’s land lies south of Asher’s, also extending from east to west. 4 Then comes Manasseh south of Naphtali, and its territory also extends from east to west. 5 South of Manasseh is Ephraim, 6 and then Reuben, 7 and then Judah, all of whose boundaries extend from east to west. 8 “South of Judah is the land set aside for a special purpose. It will be 8 miles wide and will extend as far east and west as the tribal territories, with the Temple at the center. 9 “The area set aside for the LORD ’s Temple will be 8 miles long and 6 miles wide. 10 For the priests there will be a strip of land measuring 8 miles long by 3 miles wide, with the LORD ’s Temple at the center. 11 This area is set aside for the ordained priests, the descendants of Zadok who served me faithfully and did not go astray with the people of Israel and the rest of the Levites. 12 It will be their special portion when the land is distributed, the most sacred land of all. Next to the priests’ territory will lie the land where the other Levites will live. 13 “The land allotted to the Levites will be the same size and shape as that belonging to the priests—8 miles long and 3 miles wide. Together these portions of land will measure 8 miles long by 6 miles wide. 14 None of this special land may ever be sold or traded or used by others, for it belongs to the LORD ; it is set apart as holy. 15 “An additional strip of land 8 miles long by 1 miles wide, south of the sacred Temple area, will be allotted for public use—homes, pasturelands, and common lands, with a city at the center. 16 The city will measure 1 miles on each side—north, south, east, and west. 17 Open lands will surround the city for 150 yards in every direction. 18 Outside the city there will be a farming area that stretches 3 miles to the east and 3 miles to the west along the border of the sacred area. This farmland will produce food for the people working in the city. 19 Those who come from the various tribes to work in the city may farm it. 20 This entire area—including the sacred lands and the city—is a square that measures 8 miles on each side. 21 “The areas that remain, to the east and to the west of the sacred lands and the city, will belong to the prince. Each of these areas will be 8 miles wide, extending in opposite directions to the eastern and western borders of Israel, with the sacred lands and the sanctuary of the Temple in the center. 22 So the prince’s land will include everything between the territories allotted to Judah and Benjamin, except for the areas set aside for the sacred lands and the city. 23 “These are the territories allotted to the rest of the tribes. Benjamin’s territory lies just south of the prince’s lands, and it extends across the entire land of Israel from east to west. 24 South of Benjamin’s territory lies that of Simeon, also extending across the land from east to west. 25 Next is the territory of Issachar with the same eastern and western boundaries. 26 “Then comes the territory of Zebulun, which also extends across the land from east to west. 27 The territory of Gad is just south of Zebulun with the same borders to the east and west. 28 The southern border of Gad runs from Tamar to the waters of Meribah at Kadesh and then follows the Brook of Egypt to the Mediterranean. 29 “These are the allotments that will be set aside for each tribe’s exclusive possession. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken! 30 “These will be the exits to the city: On the north wall, which is 1 miles long, 31 there will be three gates, each one named after a tribe of Israel. The first will be named for Reuben, the second for Judah, and the third for Levi. 32 On the east wall, also 1 miles long, the gates will be named for Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan. 33 The south wall, also 1 miles long, will have gates named for Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun. 34 And on the west wall, also 1 miles long, the gates will be named for Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. 35 “The distance around the entire city will be 6 miles. And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The LORD Is There.’ ”
“When you put Christ at the top of your life each day, restored order will infuse your life”
I was stressed out not too long ago. As I sat, thinking about a predicament, my bible caught my eye and I literally thought to myself, “no time for that, I have a problem and need to figure this thing out”. Man, how arrogant! I will say, as soon as that thought left my mind, I realized how foolish it was. Friends, we are created beings that need a leader and direction. Our creator made us with those core needs. We get into a life of chaos when we ditch the script and start looking for answers in our limited, flesh-driven behaviors. If you desire restored order, seek the calming wisdom of Christ.
I like to think of the bible as a how-to (or what no to do, see: Cain, Eve, Joseph’s brothers, yikes!) guide on how to live a Christ-centered life. When I am obedient in my studying, the world around me (though imperfect) becomes easier to navigate. Hard work makes sense, maintaining your possessions, loving your neighbor, paying your debts, all of the mundane things many of us take for granted become the main thing. The bible teaches lessons that when we apply them, we gain wisdom and peace. That is because Christ is at the top, balancing our perspective and behaviors so that we may aspire to lead a life pleasing to Him. If you want to make sense and return to restored order, it’s time to make a relationship with Christ your top priority.
Are you content with the chaos of the world or do you want to restore order by prioritizing Christ?
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1 On June 21, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, give this message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and all his hordes: “To whom would you compare your greatness? 3 You are like mighty Assyria, which was once like a cedar of Lebanon, with beautiful branches that cast deep forest shade and with its top high among the clouds. 4 Deep springs watered it and helped it to grow tall and luxuriant. The water flowed around it like a river, streaming to all the trees nearby. 5 This great tree towered high, higher than all the other trees around it. It prospered and grew long thick branches because of all the water at its roots. 6 The birds nested in its branches, and in its shade all the wild animals gave birth. All the great nations of the world lived in its shadow. 7 It was strong and beautiful, with wide-spreading branches, for its roots went deep into abundant water. 8 No other cedar in the garden of God could rival it. No cypress had branches to equal it; no plane tree had boughs to compare. No tree in the garden of God came close to it in beauty. 9 Because I made this tree so beautiful, and gave it such magnificent foliage, it was the envy of all the other trees of Eden, the garden of God. 10 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because Egypt became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, with its top reaching to the clouds, 11 I will hand it over to a mighty nation that will destroy it as its wickedness deserves. I have already discarded it. 12 A foreign army—the terror of the nations—has cut it down and left it fallen on the ground. Its branches are scattered across the mountains and valleys and ravines of the land. All those who lived in its shadow have gone away and left it lying there. 13 “The birds roost on its fallen trunk, and the wild animals lie among its branches. 14 Let the tree of no other nation proudly exult in its own prosperity, though it be higher than the clouds and it be watered from the depths. For all are doomed to die, to go down to the depths of the earth. They will land in the pit along with everyone else on earth. 15 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When Assyria went down to the grave, I made the deep springs mourn. I stopped its rivers and dried up its abundant water. I clothed Lebanon in black and caused the trees of the field to wilt. 16 I made the nations shake with fear at the sound of its fall, for I sent it down to the grave with all the others who descend to the pit. And all the other proud trees of Eden, the most beautiful and the best of Lebanon, the ones whose roots went deep into the water, took comfort to find it there with them in the depths of the earth. 17 Its allies, too, were all destroyed and had passed away. They had gone down to the grave—all those nations that had lived in its shade. 18 “O Egypt, to which of the trees of Eden will you compare your strength and glory? You, too, will be brought down to the depths with all these other nations. You will lie there among the outcasts who have died by the sword. This will be the fate of Pharaoh and all his hordes. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
“Slow down and talk with God to see that ultimately it is He who provides for you.”
Building a life without Christ is like trying to fill a black hole– you simply can’t. Sure, you can make a lot of money, have tons of lovers, drink and imbibe every carnal activity out there, but there will always be a void. You can indulge in every pleasurable thing, constantly having to increase the dosage because you build up a tolerance, but all that happens is that you prolong the inevitable– emptiness. You could be the most perfect secular human being and will still come up short. Why? Because without Christ, we have nothing.
Context is vitally important for man to understand our place in this life. The world teaches us that by our own will, things can be done. Friends, that is not so! The fundamental truth is that God created us. By His design a connection to Him is integral to our wellbeing. But instead, many of us try and fill the divine purpose of Christ with busyness, distraction, gluttony, lust, or whichever vice holds your gaze. Until you give up your worldly master, you will never truly be fulfilled. Until you stop entertaining the smoke and mirrors of the world, confusion will be your best friend. God desires peace and harmony for all of us. In order for us to attain it, we must want to seek the One who can provide all things for us– Christ.
Are going to avoid the One who can fill the void?
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1 On January 7, during the tenth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, turn and face Egypt and prophesy against Pharaoh the king and all the people of Egypt. 3 Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD : “I am your enemy, O Pharaoh, king of Egypt— you great monster, lurking in the streams of the Nile. For you have said, ‘The Nile River is mine; I made it for myself.’ 4 I will put hooks in your jaws and drag you out on the land with fish sticking to your scales. 5 I will leave you and all your fish stranded in the wilderness to die. You will lie unburied on the open ground, for I have given you as food to the wild animals and birds. 6 All the people of Egypt will know that I am the LORD, for to Israel you were just a staff made of reeds. 7 When Israel leaned on you, you splintered and broke and stabbed her in the armpit. When she put her weight on you, you collapsed, and her legs gave way. 8 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will bring an army against you, O Egypt, and destroy both people and animals. 9 The land of Egypt will become a desolate wasteland, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD . “Because you said, ‘The Nile River is mine; I made it,’ 10 I am now the enemy of both you and your river. I will make the land of Egypt a totally desolate wasteland, from Migdol to Aswan, as far south as the border of Ethiopia. 11 For forty years not a soul will pass that way, neither people nor animals. It will be completely uninhabited. 12 I will make Egypt desolate, and it will be surrounded by other desolate nations. Its cities will be empty and desolate for forty years, surrounded by other ruined cities. I will scatter the Egyptians to distant lands. 13 “But this is what the Sovereign LORD also says: At the end of the forty years I will bring the Egyptians home again from the nations to which they have been scattered. 14 I will restore the prosperity of Egypt and bring its people back to the land of Pathros in southern Egypt from which they came. But Egypt will remain an unimportant, minor kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of all the nations, never again great enough to rise above its neighbors. 16 “Then Israel will no longer be tempted to trust in Egypt for help. Egypt’s shattered condition will remind Israel of how sinful she was to trust Egypt in earlier days. Then Israel will know that I am the Sovereign LORD .” 17 On April 26, the first day of the new year, during the twenty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD : 18 “Son of man, the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon fought so hard against Tyre that the warriors’ heads were rubbed bare and their shoulders were raw and blistered. Yet Nebuchadnezzar and his army won no plunder to compensate them for all their work. 19 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will carry off its wealth, plundering everything it has so he can pay his army. 20 Yes, I have given him the land of Egypt as a reward for his work, says the Sovereign LORD, because he was working for me when he destroyed Tyre. 21 “And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD .”
“If you take time to learn the fundamentals of Christ and His teaches, the wisdom He bestows to you for your efforts will guide you throw the highs and lows of life.”
Practice and Purpose
The Bible is the ultimate playbook for you to use in this game called life. Think about sports like basketball. Elite ballplayers spend a significant amount of time studying the film of their opponents. They also spend time practicing their shots, ball handling, defense, and everything in between. Take NBA players. These guys have been playing basketball for years and years.
You would think will all of the time and practice they put in, there would be no need to watch game tape or practice. So why do they do it? Because practice and reviewing the film is the type of tool that defeats your opponent. The Bible and applying its wisdom prepares us to understand the devil’s games and how to win. Practice also helps us against the enemy when we’re tired
The devil works hard to throw us off in several areas in our lives. He’ll attack when we’re tired, when we’re distracted, when we’re stepping up in our walk with Christ, and especially when we’re successful. But don’t worry, the opposition messes greatly with the first string because he knows how influential they are in spreading the good news.
Fortunately for us, this is why we practice reading the Bible. When we’re tired, distracted, encouraging others about Christ, or stepping in our calling, this is when we must really hunker down and rely on the fundamentals. This is because God’s Truth supersedes our truths. So, when our neighbor offends us, we practice what we learned in the Bible, which is forgiveness so that it doesn’t become a foothold. When we have bills to pay, we pay them instead of buying stuff for ourselves.
Fundamentals are Key
Just like elite basketball players, we can get tired and weary, which is where the devil and temptation will rear its ugly head. When we rely on our flesh, we fail because we’re not built to weather storms such as these. Instead we have to rely on the teachings and the fundamentals of the word.
The Bible is literally the game tape of how God defeats the devil. What better resource to help us in our walks with Christ! By studying the playbook–Bible– we have foundational strength and behaviors that allow us to have victory over our trials and temptations. We gain the spiritual muscle memory to shoot the ball, scoring even when physically we can’t go on. If you want to be on the championship team, study God’s playbook, the Bible.
Are you studying how to defeat the opposition?
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1 This message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, once there were two sisters who were daughters of the same mother. 3 They became prostitutes in Egypt. Even as young girls, they allowed men to fondle their breasts. 4 The older girl was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. I married them, and they bore me sons and daughters. I am speaking of Samaria and Jerusalem, for Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem. 5 “Then Oholah lusted after other lovers instead of me, and she gave her love to the Assyrian officers. 6 They were all attractive young men, captains and commanders dressed in handsome blue, charioteers driving their horses. 7 And so she prostituted herself with the most desirable men of Assyria, worshiping their idols and defiling herself. 8 For when she left Egypt, she did not leave her spirit of prostitution behind. She was still as lewd as in her youth, when the Egyptians slept with her, fondled her breasts, and used her as a prostitute. 9 “And so I handed her over to her Assyrian lovers, whom she desired so much. 10 They stripped her, took away her children as their slaves, and then killed her. After she received her punishment, her reputation was known to every woman in the land. 11 “Yet even though Oholibah saw what had happened to Oholah, her sister, she followed right in her footsteps. And she was even more depraved, abandoning herself to her lust and prostitution. 12 She fawned over all the Assyrian officers—those captains and commanders in handsome uniforms, those charioteers driving their horses—all of them attractive young men. 13 I saw the way she was going, defiling herself just like her older sister. 14 “Then she carried her prostitution even further. She fell in love with pictures that were painted on a wall—pictures of Babylonian military officers, outfitted in striking red uniforms. 15 Handsome belts encircled their waists, and flowing turbans crowned their heads. They were dressed like chariot officers from the land of Babylonia. 16 When she saw these paintings, she longed to give herself to them, so she sent messengers to Babylonia to invite them to come to her. 17 So they came and committed adultery with her, defiling her in the bed of love. After being defiled, however, she rejected them in disgust. 18 “In the same way, I became disgusted with Oholibah and rejected her, just as I had rejected her sister, because she flaunted herself before them and gave herself to satisfy their lusts. 19 Yet she turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse. 21 And so, Oholibah, you relived your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed your breasts to be fondled. 22 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will send your lovers against you from every direction—those very nations from which you turned away in disgust. 23 For the Babylonians will come with all the Chaldeans from Pekod and Shoa and Koa. And all the Assyrians will come with them—handsome young captains, commanders, chariot officers, and other high-ranking officers, all riding their horses. 24 They will all come against you from the north with chariots, wagons, and a great army prepared for attack. They will take up positions on every side, surrounding you with men armed with shields and helmets. And I will hand you over to them for punishment so they can do with you as they please. 25 I will turn my jealous anger against you, and they will deal harshly with you. They will cut off your nose and ears, and any survivors will then be slaughtered by the sword. Your children will be taken away as captives, and everything that is left will be burned. 26 They will strip you of your beautiful clothes and jewels. 27 In this way, I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you brought from Egypt. You will never again cast longing eyes on those things or fondly remember your time in Egypt. 28 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will surely hand you over to your enemies, to those you loathe, those you rejected. 29 They will treat you with hatred and rob you of all you own, leaving you stark naked. The shame of your prostitution will be exposed to all the world. 30 You brought all this on yourself by prostituting yourself to other nations, defiling yourself with all their idols. 31 Because you have followed in your sister’s footsteps, I will force you to drink the same cup of terror she drank. 32 “Yes, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “You will drink from your sister’s cup of terror, a cup that is large and deep. It is filled to the brim with scorn and derision. 33 Drunkenness and anguish will fill you, for your cup is filled to the brim with distress and desolation, the same cup your sister Samaria drank. 34 You will drain that cup of terror to the very bottom. Then you will smash it to pieces and beat your breast in anguish. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken! 35 “And because you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You must bear the consequences of all your lewdness and prostitution.” 36 The LORD said to me, “Son of man, you must accuse Oholah and Oholibah of all their detestable sins. 37 They have committed both adultery and murder—adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore to me. 38 Furthermore, they have defiled my Temple and violated my Sabbath day! 39 On the very day that they sacrificed their children to their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house. 40 “You sisters sent messengers to distant lands to get men. Then when they arrived, you bathed yourselves, painted your eyelids, and put on your finest jewels for them. 41 You sat with them on a beautifully embroidered couch and put my incense and my special oil on a table that was spread before you. 42 From your room came the sound of many men carousing. They were lustful men and drunkards from the wilderness, who put bracelets on your wrists and beautiful crowns on your heads. 43 Then I said, ‘If they really want to have sex with old worn-out prostitutes like these, let them!’ 44 And that is what they did. They had sex with Oholah and Oholibah, these shameless prostitutes. 45 But righteous people will judge these sister cities for what they really are—adulterers and murderers. 46 “Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Bring an army against them and hand them over to be terrorized and plundered. 47 For their enemies will stone them and kill them with swords. They will butcher their sons and daughters and burn their homes. 48 In this way, I will put an end to lewdness and idolatry in the land, and my judgment will be a warning to all women not to follow your wicked example. 49 You will be fully repaid for all your prostitution—your worship of idols. Yes, you will suffer the full penalty. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD .”