Monthly Archives: January 2015

What’s that in your eye?

Mt. 7:3-4: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

Have you ever wondered if the speck we are seeing in someone else’s eye is really a reflection of the plank in our own eye?  Perhaps the shadow of our plank is reflecting off the surface of their life.

It is so easy for us to notice the imperfections in others.  Sometimes I think we even create issues that aren’t truly there, as a result of our own guilty consciences or our own inner feelings.

A simple example of this is a tired child who cries over the unfairness of everything.  The real issue isn’t that everything everyone else is doing is actually unfair.  The real issue is their own plank:  they are tired and need to rest.  The specks they are seeing in everyone else are only a reflection of their own plank.

The examples of planks grow more serious as we grow older:  jealousy, insecurity, dishonesty, adultery, deception, addiction, two-facedness, etc.  All can result in an hypocrisy in our lives…we have these things within us, but harshly project them onto others or judge them in error, when what we “think” we see in them is really the reflection of our own internal issues.

Has anyone else noticed this?  This morning I read John 8 about the adulteress that was caught in the act and brought to Jesus for stoning. Certainly she had sinned and broken the law, but what Jesus asked her accusers was, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

It is so easy for us to see the sins in the lives of others, and sometimes, perhaps the sin we see is real, but we really need to worry more about our own issues.

When we notice specks in the lives of those around us more often than we notice them in ourselves, it is likely that we are actually carrying around a plank.  Our plank is probably reflecting off of them and showing something that isn’t even there.

If that is the case, we need to seek the Lord’s counsel and help for our own sins and issues, and pray that the Lord would help us see others through His eyes of love.  When we submit to the Lord and allow Him to change us, the Word says that we will see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  (If it’s our place to do so…and if there truly is one)

I hope that today, like me, you will bear with the specks on those around you, and ask God to remove the planks from your own life.  What a happier environment we will create as we do so.

Trying not to leave splinters,

jamie

Justice according to God…not us

Pr. 28:5:  “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand all.”

In John 7:24, after Jesus was confronted by people complaining against Him, He said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

It can be so easy for us to judge people and circumstances by what we see on the outside.  However, when we are seekers of the Lord, and are consistently gaining more understanding of Him and His will, we find that judgment does not come quite so easily.

The wisdom from the Lord helps us to understand justice according to God’s will and not our own.

We want revenge, but God says vengeance is His.  We want to strike back, but God says turn the other cheek.  We want to be found more faithful, but God says humble yourself and do not think more highly of yourself than you ought.  We believe in choice, but the Lord says to plead the cause of those unable to speak for themselves.

Justice, according to us, is self-seeking and certainly fickle.  One day we’re in a kind, peaceful, forgiving mood.  The next day we might find ourselves mad at the world.  If we seek justice according to our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and personal beliefs, disaster will certainly ensue.  How many wars, divorces, and divisions could have been avoided if personal justice wasn’t sought?

When we become more like Jesus, seeking the will of the Father, then we understand justice according to the One who is true.  God’s ways are not our ways, but plans are for good, and He has proven Himself through the ages to be faithful and sovereign.

If we are to understand justice, we should seek to understand justice from the viewpoint of our Father in heaven.  We can dig through His word and understand what true justice is.  When we seek the Lord we can understand all.

Looking inward,

jamie

Something worth talking about

Let’s talk about something interesting today:  Jesus.

Did you know that when you talk about The Lord, He listens?

Our Sunday school lesson last week was from Mt. 16:13-20, when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?”  The principle of our lesson was ‘practice talking about God.’  We encouraged our children to get to know Jesus in a more personal way, so they have something to share about Him.

One thing I forgot to mention to them is that when we do talk about The Lord He listens.

Malachi 3:16-17 says, “Then those who feared The Lord spoke to one another, and The Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear The Lord and who meditate on His name.  “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I make them My jewels, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

The Lord is writing a book of remembrance.  When we talk about Him:  meditate on His name, praise Him, talk of what He’s done in our lives, talk about His greatness, talk of His strength, talk about Him around our tables and campfires, share about Him with others or with one another, He hears.

He listens and it is so important to Him that he is having a book written to remember the words and one day we will be made His jewels.  :).

Talking about Him is never done in vain.  He says He will spare us…just for talking about something that is probably our favorite subject anyway.  I love to hear people talk about The Lord and His greatness.

Who do you say that Jesus is?  If you’re not sure, read more about Him.  If you know, then share it.  Talk about Him, and as you honor Him, He will record it to be remembered always, and one day you will be His jewel for all eternity.

Happy to share,

jamie

Dreaming the very possible dream

Pr. 21:25-26:  “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”

The first example that comes to my mind pertains to losing weight.  How many times have we heard people wish out loud (or perhaps done it ourselves) that they would eat better and lose weight.

“Oh, it’s frustrating being overweight.”  “I need to start eating better.”  “I wish I could wear clothes like that, run a 5k, or have that much energy.”  The list goes on and on.

Stating the desire out loud can cause deep sorrow or depression when the one speaking it knows they will do nothing to achieve that goal.  It may seem like dreaming the impossible dream.

The reality; however, is that by making the decision to put forth the labor, the weight could in fact come off.  Deciding that the desire is worth the effort, one could finally begin to say no to unhealthy foods and yes to healthy choices.

There are lots of examples of this:  saving money, getting out of debt, reading the Bible more, taking time for ourselves each day, spending more time with family, learning that hobby we’ve been dreaming about, beginning a foundation, joining a ministry…the list could go on and on.

What is it that you’ve been desiring, but feeling as if it were an impossible dream?

Ask The Lord to help you.  Nothing is impossible for God, and with Him all things are possible.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

As Christians, we must remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear.  There is nothing we can’t do with God on our side.  God gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.

A sound mind.  When we decide our desire is worth the labor, and we ask The Lord to help us, we can grasp that desire with hands full of power.  We do not have live under the heaviness of unfulfilled desires.  We can reach out, through God, and see our desires come to life.

Today is the day when we can begin the labor that will see our desire fulfilled!  Ask God to help, and let’s get to work.

Laboring,

jamie

The King of mercy

Pr. 20:8:  “A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters all evil with his eyes.”  

Obviously not all kings are or have been the same.  The character of the king would certainly determine his judgments.

This verse brings to mind my current situation.  From my seat on the couch, where I have positioned myself while my leg heals, I can see a lot of different things.

This morning, as the sun has been streaming so beautifully through the door, I can see every speck of dust on my floor.  I can see things outside that need to be taken care of.  I can see dvd’s out of place, things in the floor that don’t belong, and decorations positioned in ways I don’t prefer.

I certainly have the option to use my seat as a place of corrupt judgment, tyrannically demanding that every little thing be exactly to my specifications and liking.  However, I also have the option of using wise judgment and understanding, ruling out what is truly imperative and what is not.

When we make judgments based on self-interests alone, we are doing an injustice to those around us.  When we count everything as “evil,” then nothing truly is.  We must wisely discriminate which infringements require us to rule in a negative way and which do not.

It’s amazing that The Lord, our God, sits on a throne of grace where we are offered mercy time after time.  God sees into our hearts.  He may see things out of place, He may notice specks of dirt or brokenness, but He rightly judges.

God does not look on us through eyes of anger, but through eyes of love.  He does not rule in His own self-interest, but in ours.  He  sent His own Son to take our punishment, offering us reward through accepting that sacrifice.  He even offers help anytime we ask.

What a mighty a God we truly serve!  God cannot tolerate sin, but He can see into our hearts, and when we are truly broken before Him, grace through the blood of Jesus covers and frees us.

God isn’t sitting around looking for the debris or disorganization in our lives so that He can judge us harshly.  Our King, is gazing lovingly at those who choose to call Him Father, with arms outstretched, grace and mercy pouring from His throne.

Yes, those who do not turn from Him will be judged, as well, but it is not His desire.  His character is proven by His love.  His judgments are pure and we can trust in Him.

Considerately,

jamie

 

 

From trouble to the altar of joy

Ps. 43:3-4:  “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!  Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.  Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.”

Psalm 43 is a prayer to God in time of trouble.  At times, any one of us can experience depression, worry, distress, pain, or sadness.  People around us may be experiencing those things right now.

Isn’t it so true that when we are in times of trouble, we crave light?   We crave a lifting of the spirit, and an uplifting of our souls.  Sometimes, even though we know that’s what we need, we can’t seem to find our way.  We need to be led to God’s holy hill…to His tabernacle.

If we could just get into His presence, we would experience the peace and find the Light and truth we seek.

That is why it is so important, when we are not in a place of trouble, that the Light of God within us is lighting the way towards the Lord.  Others may also be struggling, seeking the peace the need and the light that shines through us may be their only hope.

What a gift to allow the Light and Truth of the Lord within us to lead them to the altar of a God, to their exceeding joy, where they can make joyful, musical praise to their God!  “To God my exceeding joy” may be some of my favorite words in the Bible.  Those words lift my spirit and remind me that it is in a God that true joy is found.

Perhaps we have nothing else to count joyful in our lives, but God…

if we have God, we have all we will ever truly need.

We must let our light so shine as to lead others to a His holy hill, to His tabernacle, where they may fall at the altar of The Lord and find their exceeding joy.

Basking in His light,

jamie

A witness of the Light

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”  John 1:6-9

That Light is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  John was sent as a witness.  Yesterday we talked about letting our light shine.  John’s life bore witness of Jesus.  Likewise, Jesus called us to be the light of the world, saying,  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Mt. 5:16

We need to make sure our lights are shining in a way that glorifies God.  Those living in darkness need a light to guide their path toward salvation.

Shine on!!

jamie

 

The best report

Pr. 15:30:  “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy.”

This verse makes me :).

I was reading Luke 24 this morning, when Jesus had risen and was walking on the road to Emmaus with 2 of His followers.  They didn’t realize it was Jesus, but later, acknowledging that they should have known, they said, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us.”

They could feel in their hearts that there was something about this Man that was different.  Their hearts “burned” within them.

The Holy Spirit had not yet come, so I’m not sure if they had a way to recognize that “burning” sensation at that point or not.  We know that feeling ourselves, as the Holy Spirit lives within those who believe, and convicts many more.

What a wonderful moment it must have been for them when their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.  Talk about a good report!  Their Messiah truly had risen.

I would classify that as a moment where there was pure light in their eyes that rejoiced the heart.  We read that they rose up, returned to Jerusalem, found the others, and told them all the wonderful news of Jesus.

What better news is there than that of Jesus Christ, risen and living within us?

There are countless individuals right now who can feel that same burning of the Holy Spirit within them, but there eyes are still restrained.  Perhaps we are the ones sent to shed the Light they need.  The Light living within us will bring rejoicing to their hearts as we share the good report with them.

There is no healthier balm than the truth and saving knowledge of The Healer.

We do not have to save people.  That burning they feel is the presence of God already working and moving within them.  We just have to bring the Light for them to see and give to them the best report they’ll ever hear. God will do the rest.

Let your light shine today, and share the good report of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

Rejoicing,

jamie

Is your trough too clean?

Pr. 14:4:  “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. “

At times we think life would be so much easier without kids running around messing up the house, without having to make more trips to the store for food, without people constantly emailing, texting, or dropping by, or without people requiring us to visit and spend time with them.

However, as we see in this verse, that is just not so.  Well, ok…maybe the house would be cleaner if no one was messing it up.  Maybe we would have more money if we weren’t having to restock the refrigerator or entertain guests.  Perhaps we would have more time on our hands if we didn’t have so many people contacting us or counting on us.

Our lives, however, are increased by those around us.  Having people in our lives that care enough about us to come around gives us strength.  Having a family to care for us when it matters is an amazing gift from God.  Having friends reach out and help when we are weak or unable is a blessing like no other.

Sure, our home may be cleaner without little ones leaving messes, but without those little ones, we wouldn’t have giggles, unexpected hugs, imaginative play, or as many trips to the zoo.

Not having people reach out to us may indeed free up our time, but without friends and family who care, we wouldn’t have affection, unexpected gifts, meals when we’re down, or reactions to the new recipe we want to try out.

There is strength in numbers.  There may be a little more work in it for us, but it’s worth any sacrifice on our part.  Without others in our lives, we would simply find ourselves in a very clean, very unscheduled world…all alone.

Let’s make sure to be grateful for the oxen in our lives.  (And I mean that in the very best of ways).   Without them our lives sure would be boring and a lot more lonely.

Grateful for all those messing up my trough,

jamie

Heed counsel that points to God

Pr. 12:15:  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”

Psalm 53:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Verse 2 says, “God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”

There are many false teachings in the world, and if we don’t seek and heed wise counsel that helps us to understand more of God, we run the risk of becoming fools.

Being kind to our fellow man is a good thing, but understanding God helps us know that what our fellow men really need is to know the One true Living God.

Following rules is not necessarily a bad thing, but understanding God helps to understand that it is belief in Jesus Christ, and His grace that bring salvation.

Inner strength isn’t the thing on which we must build and rely, when the Lord, our Strength and our Shield, perfects His strength in our weaknesses.

Peace is something we all seek, but there is a peace that surpasses all understanding, that comes only from Christ Jesus.

Seeking God will bring more understanding of God, and will protect us from deceitful thoughts that teach a life lived outside of God.

We need seek Him to understand Him more and more.  We will be counted wise by the only One who really matters, and we will not suffer the fate of the fools.

Not only that, but we won’t have to live a life thinking it all rides on us.  Our understanding will allow us to know that we have a Helper who will guide us through all things.

In His care,

jamie