Where honor is due

Pr. 30:11:  “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.”

This reminds me of the world in which we currently live, although, I know that disrespect goes back to the beginning of time.  I remember the story of Noah and his sons.  Noah became uncovered in his tent and when his son, Ham, saw his father’s nakedness, he went out and told his brothers all about it.  His brothers, on the other hand, went in and covered their father, keeping their faces turned.  They showed their father the respect he deserved because he was their father.  Ham was cursed and his brothers were blessed.

Disrespect seems to be more rampant in our society these days.  All you really have to do is visit a play ground or the mall and listen to the way that children speak to their parents to find out the truth.  More and more we are modeling the behavior of Ham.  Sadly we even hear of worse, as I just heard a story about a man who stabbed his mother to death.  How far we’ve strayed.

I won’t get in to all the discipline issues, but speak to God’s instructions about our parents.  As far back as the Exodus of the Israelites, the Lord gave the command:  “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  This was the first commandment with a promise.  Not only will our parents be honored and respected, but we live long on the earth and things will be well with us.

Some parents teach false or wicked things to their children.  What then?  We are not responsible for the actions of others, but for our own.  We aren’t to give respect only to those who have earned it, but to those who are in a position of authority over us because the Lord has appointed them.  We honor their position, not their worthiness.  We give honor and respect because we were commanded to do so, and because we see what Jesus has done for us when we have not earned it.  We honor and show respect as unto Christ.

Pr. 11:29 says, “He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind.”  Surely, not giving honor to our parents causes trouble; and instead of gaining a promise, we will get nothing.  Trusting in God as our heavenly Father allows us to follow His commands without fear.  Surely He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  He shows Himself strong to those whose hearts are loyal to Him.  Trust Him enough to keep His commands.  You will receive help and a promise to boot!

Respectfully,

jamie

 

 

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Are you groaning?

Pr. 29:2:  “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”

This verse reminds me of work.  Have you ever worked for a boss who just seemed unbearable?  Sadly, in our sin-fallen world, not everyone is perfect.  Occasionally, there are people who rule over us in a very unpleasant way.  This can be true for work, for government, just about anything.  Truly we groan within ourselves when this is the case.

On the other hand, when we are ‘ruled’ by someone who is righteous, our lives are made much easier, and seem much more pleasant.

This reminds me of Col. 3:23-24, which says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

It is the Lord we are serving, not men.  No matter how many raises, bonuses, incentives, or even punishments are given to us by men, our ultimate reward comes from the Lord.

I’m reminded, as well, of Eph. 6:5-8:  “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”

We are actually ruled by One who is righteous.  Our reward comes from Him, not from man.  We are instructed to serve our ‘masters’ in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.  Serving Christ, the One who laid down His very life for us, is a privilege and an honor.  If we can remind ourselves that it is He that we are serving, truly we can willingly lay down our pride and our lives to do His will in all we do.  We can also be assured that the good we do will be done unto us by the Lord.

Also, this morning I read Ps. 43, in which the writer is asking for God to deliver him from the deceitful and unjust man.  At the end of the Psalm, the writer reminds himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

Then there is Pr. 29:25 which points out that the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.  We can trust in God because He is faithful.  Our hope lies in Him, the One who is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Do not grow weary.  Work as to the Lord today.  You are safe in His hands, and your reward is forthcoming.

Rejoicing,

jamie

Time to sweep!

We went camping last night.  After we unpacked and put everything away this afternoon, our floor was covered in dirt, bark, leaves, etc.  I swept twice on Thursday and once yesterday, but as I was sweeping the mess from today, I commented to my husband that it looks like I never sweep.

That thought kept rolling around in my mind and reminded me of spiritual disciplines.  Yep…ya just never know what God will use to speak to your heart.

If I don’t sweep one day the house isn’t too messy.  No big deal.  If I miss two days, the specks on the floor would become pretty noticeable.  If I miss three days, dirt and crumbs would probably begin sticking to our feet and something just wouldn’t seem right in the house.

Give it a few weeks and the problem would be pretty evident to anyone who stepped inside.  After a year, cobwebs and dust bunnies would have taken over and no one would want to step foot in the house.  Bugs would probably be pretty comfortable in our home and mold would likely be growing on the piles of food crumbs.  Not only would the house look very nasty, but it would also create an unhealthy environment for our family.

Has your mind already created the parallel with spiritual disciplines?  Missing a day of Bible reading and prayer isn’t so bad, right?  We get busy sometimes, after all.  Missing two days?  Specks begin to show.  Maybe a blot of something undesirable gets stuck somewhere and we either ignore it or don’t notice.  After a few weeks of neglecting our relationship with God and others begin to notice.  We may make excuses and think all is fine.  We’ll get around to it soon.

A year without spending quality time with God and the nastiness of sin would show and continue to grow an undesirable, unhealthy new environment for us and for those around us.  Our hearts grow hard and callous towards sin and the garbage and foul grime that accompanies it.  Eventually we’re trapped inside a putrid life that no longer brings joy to anyone…including us.

God’s word and His presence bring freedom and keep us healthy, happy, and pure before a righteous God.  We cannot let business, distractions, laziness, or apathy keep us from our time with God.  A life that is too busy or consumed with things other than God is one that will create a layer of filth all around us.  Truly we reap what we sow.  If we do nothing to grow our relationship with God, then our relationship will wither and our lives will be the proof.

Being intentional about spiritual disciplines isn’t just a good idea.  Like sweeping keeps a home from being covered in filth, our spiritual disciplines keep our souls from the same.  Spending time with God is what makes us sparkle and shine.  🙂

Enjoy His Word today,

jamie

Sowing while we wait

Ps. 126:5-6:  “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him.”

While we are waiting for Christ’s return, we are living in a fallen, sin-cursed world where there is indeed pain and suffering.  Here we still experience sorrow, death, and tears.  So, in the midst of our trials, how does our trust in God come forth?

We know God’s universal law of reaping and sowing:  whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  Gal. 6:7.  This Psalm tells us something even more.  When we sow in tears we will reap in joy.

If, in the midst of our sorrow and weeping, we continue to sow the seeds of righteousness, we will reap a harvest of joy.  Gal. 6:9 promises that, “in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Trials are common to us all.  Suffering is a sad result of sin that affects each of us.  Christians, in particular, suffer further persecution at times that can cause even more heart-ache.  The promise we have; however, is that even in the midst of the trials, the tears, and the weeping, our faithful sowing will reap joy and we will have a harvest to show for it.

In faith, we can continue to sow seeds around us, even through our tears.  Actually, doesn’t it seem sometimes that the best seeds are planted when tears are present?  Our experiences give our testimony of faith more weight.

Our trials and painful experiences are like fertilizer that gives the seed the extra nutrients it needs to grow strong.  If we can still plant seed and walk in faith even during trials, it gives others the proof they need that God is faithful and mighty; and this can help them to grow strong in the Lord and in their own faith.

I encourage you today, while you are waiting, to continue trusting in God’s faithfulness and to continue sowing seeds.  Water the seeds with your tears, if need be, but continue to sow.  You will reap joy and come back rejoicing, harvest in hand!

Keep trusting.  He is coming again!

jamie

 

 

I have good news

Pr. 25:25:  “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.”

I have good news.  Jesus is coming back for us!

“Behold, I am coming quickly!”  Rev. 22:7

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”  James 5:7-8

We must establish our hearts, to choose Him once and for all; and wait patiently on our reward.  Like the crop, long-awaited, He will return.

Rev. 21:1-5 tells us, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also, there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

No more death.  No more pain.  No more tears.  If we but patiently endure while on this pilgrimage in this foreign land, our reward will be given.  Sometimes our lives can be painful and even feel consuming, but we can trust in the Word that is proven, that is pure, and that endures forever.  God says He will make all things new.  His return and our great reward will redeem all the pain we’ve experienced in this life.

We must find the strength to trust Him in all things.  He has plans for our lives, and more importantly for our eternity, that are perfect.  We must allow Him to be the refuge for us in this life, patiently enduring and trusting in Him.  If we do that, we will dwell in the place where there is no more curse.  Our pain will be over and we will be surrounded by the glory of God for eternity.

Be ready.  The King is coming!

Enjoy the refreshingly great news,

jamie

Strength for the battle

Pr. 24:5:  “A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.”

We spent some more time in WV last week–this time on the river.  I spent some time sitting by a small waterfall near the house.  Really, it’s just a rapid in the water, but its strong and powerful, nonetheless.  I went down that rapid without a kayak once and had the month-long bruise to show for it.

As my kids played near me, we found ourselves having to yell at one another in order to hear each other over the noise of the water.  It reminded me of Ps. 93:4 that says, “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

This rapid was only about 5 ft. across and maybe 5 ft. down…tiny in comparison to a waterfall you would hike out miles to see or certainly to something like Niagara Falls; nevertheless, the noise it produced was loud enough to deafen our voices.  The Word says that the Lord is mightier than the sound of many waters.

In the word, we find many examples of this might.  One of my favorite stories is that of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr. 20.  After hearing that several armies were coming against him, he set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  All the cities came to seek the Lord.  Jehoshaphat then stood in the assembly and proclaimed the might and power of God, declaring that they had no power against these enemies and that their eyes were now on God.

God then reminded them that indeed the battle was not theirs, but His.  After the multitudes praised and worshiped him, they went out in the morning, singing and praising the beauty of holiness.  Then, God turned the armies on themselves and they wiped each other out.  No one escaped.  The spoils of the armies were so much that it took 3 days to gather them all.

Now, if God can fight a war for Jehoshaphat without him ever picking up a sword or spear, how much more can He do for us?  Jehoshaphat’s job was to praise God, to worship, and to lift up the Lord’s name.  He reminded God that he himself had no power and God showed Jehoshaphat that in his weakness, truly God’s strength is made perfect!

When we realize the might and power of our God, surely we understand that humbling ourselves before Him makes His strength perfect in our lives.  Knowing Him, and knowing what He can do gives us all we need to face the battles in our lives.  We have no need to fear when this kind of God is on our side!

Strengthen yourself with His Word today and build up your faith in the One who has delivered others before you.  He can do the same for you.  When you feel the waters try to overtake you, you can remember than not only is God more powerful than the waters, but more powerful even than their noise.  Begin to praise Him now.  You will NOT be overtaken!

In awe of His might,

jamie

Stop speaking

Pr. 23:9:  “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”

The Bible describes a fool as one who has said in his heart, “there is no God.”  For those of us who deeply love and believe in God, knowing that someone we love does not also believe can be deeply painful.  We do not wish that our loved ones would pass away not believing, and not going to their eternal life in heaven.  It is also sad to watch loved ones not living this life empowered by the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we understand the power that comes from surrendering to the Lord, and we wish that for those we love.  It is natural for us to talk about the Lord on a daily basis, but when faced with an unbeliever, these conversations can be seen as offensive or even turn into hurtful debates.  I think we can gather from Solomon that although we have much wisdom within us, there is a time when we must simply cease our speaking.

This is where it become imperative that we are walking in the Spirit.  If we simply trust in the Lord, love Him with all our hearts, walk in His power, and allow His Spirit to guide us, it will be evident to those around us.  We must be the example of the reasons why believing in and trusting in the Lord is the best option.

I am not saying we shouldn’t witness to others.  I believe we should be full of the wisdom of the Lord and ready to offer praise and answers about Him at all times.  There comes a point; however, when our words become despised.  Our words, when heard over and over, can begin to grate on the nerves of one who does not believe.

So what do we do?  We walk in the Spirit.  We live a life that honors God.  We pray.  This is where prayer is truly an imperative.  We must bring our loved ones before the Lord, who is the One who has given salvation.  The word says that the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts sinners.  (John 16:8)  The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  (John 16:13)  The Holy spirit also teaches all things and brings to remembrance the things the Lord has spoken to us (and to our loved ones).  (John 14:26)

Notice that the Holy Spirit does the teaching, the truth-telling, and the convicting.  Yes, we must be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have, but an answer requires a question.  If the hope of God shows in our lives, someone may just ask us why.  We can then answer their question.  If we don’t show any hope and only try to do the convicting ourselves, our words will be despised.

We must let go and let God do His job.  He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance.  Our job is to continue in the truth, in His wisdom, in faith, in hope and in prayer, showing the love and meekness of Christ.

Praying with you,

jamie