How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

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Lessons from ol’ Eb

In Jeremiah 38, we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon, meaning he had to be lowered down with ropes; and the Bible says there was no water, but mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.  Jeremiah is in a bad situation.

Someone found out about this.  He was a eunuch in the king’s house, named Ebed-Melech.  We’ll just call him Eb, for short.

Jeremiah was a prophet, which means he normally had some respect, but right now he is sinking in mire, in a place where he had to literally be lowered down with ropes.  Yikes!  Not much respect here.  Eb goes to the king and says, “My lord the king, these men have done evil..to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is.  For there is no bread in the city.”

The king commands Eb to take 30 men with him to go lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon before he could die.  So, the men got some old rags and clothes and lowered them down into the dungeon on some ropes and told Jeremiah to put them under his armpits, under the ropes, and then they pulled him up, and hopefully fed the man and let him get cleaned up a little.  (I don’t know…it doesn’t say that part)

There are people in our lives right now that feel as though they are sinking the mire.  Are we taking the time out of our lives to send down the ropes and pull them out?  It’s ok if we need to get some others to go with us.  Eb took 30 men with him.  If you’re too insecure or uncertain to do it alone call for back up!  But never leave someone sinking if you know they’re there.  Pull them out before they can die…emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I also love the care they took with Jeremiah.  They considered his weakened state and sent down some old rags and clothes for him to put under his armpits before having him put the ropes under his arms before they pulled him back up.  When we are helping people, it’s ok to take a little extra care and not always assume “tough love” is the immediate best plan.

There are also people around us who need to be literally fed or given some water.  Perhaps you can help with that.  If so, please do.  Maybe you don’t have all the resources, but like Eb, you know someone who does.  Talk to them.  See if they can help, and maybe you can even pitch in and help like ol’ Eb did.  Don’t just watch someone suffer and do nothing.  Pr. 3:27 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.”

Thanks for these great reminders today Eb!  You were a stand up guy!

Look for someone around you that may need some help today,

jamie

 

Using the right tools?

Cleaning the mirror with furniture polish…not so much.

The other day, I was thinking about how we sometimes go about our lives without the proper tools, making things much harder for ourselves, or looking for the help in the wrong places.

Take peace, for instance.  When we need peace in our lives, we might try meditation, medication, alcohol, or a costly get-away.  All the while, peace is just an ask away.  Ph. 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes from God transcends all understanding.  We can get that out of our tool box, if we just trust Him enough to ask.

How about discernment?  That’s the ability to judge well…to judge our actions, our reactions, our words, our Facebook posts, our attire…discernment.  We might try to base that off what others are saying or doing, or how we want them to react to us.  Ps. 119:66 is a great reminder that there is only one place we should be looking for advice on those things: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  God is the One who will give us the good judgment (discernment) that we need as we walk through this life and navigate these choppy waters.

And what about financial troubles.  We get title loans, put things on credit cards, and go into more and more debt.  Are we tithing?  There are blessings that come with giving the Lord the tenth that belongs to Him.  We came into this world with nothing, and all that we have came from Him.  We are blessed.  When we give back to Him that tenth, He will honor His word in Malachi 3:9-11, when He says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” 

The Lord uses the tithes we bring to bless others around us.  When we are all being obedient, there will be more than enough for everyone, but we will also be blessed when we give.  If you’re having financial troubles, my advice to you today is to tithe.  I know the math doesn’t make sense, but I promise you, God will faithfully honor it, and will meet your needs.  

Don’t struggle through life using the wrong tools.  Look to God and His Word for all that you need.  He has all this and more waiting for you now.

You’re not alone,

jamie

Knowledge vs. Love

Pr. 9:1: “Wisdom has built her house, she has been out her seven pillars;”

A couple of days ago, after my son woke up, I asked him what he’d read in his Bible when he woke up.  He said, in a confused voice, “I read about She. It was in Proverbs.”  I knew he must have been speaking of wisdom, so we went and looked at it and talked it out so he could understand it a little more.

Wisdom is the one you want to know.  She, as the Bible describes her, was with God at the beginning, when He was creating the foundations of the earth.  She also helps us forsake foolishness and go in the way of understanding.  She speaks excellent, right, and true things.  She is better than rubies and more desirable than any other thing.

This morning I was reading a contrasting scripture, 1 Cor. 8:1, which says, “We know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”

Paul was talking to the Corinthians about a hot topic of that day: food offered to idols.  Of course, people had a lot of knowledge, but apparently not everyone was sharing that knowledge with love.

I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve been present for many heated conversations, and I’ve witnessed the aftermath of people’s “knowledgeable” comments towards one another..we still have the same issue today.

There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. We all have knowledge, as Paul said, but it is when we let wisdom take charge that we all win.  Wisdom is the one that helps us bite our tongues.  That’s still a rarely used tactic.  Holding back comments is not a bad thing.  Praying before speaking is never a poor decision.  Choosing to not have the last word is never a sign of weakness…that always takes more strength.

Loving people is a choice that sometimes takes extra strength, as well.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, and with wisdom, we are much more equipped to show love than to show frustration, anger, disappointment, bitterness, superiority, and the like.

I pray that today, we will lay down our knowledge and choose, in love, to listen to wisdom.  Love edifies.  Let’s seek first the kingdom of God, and second to edify, in love.  When we do that, we can then point people to His kingdom because we won’t be driving them away.

Seek “she” out today,

jamie

Who are you?

Pr. 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

We have to be careful where we get our sense of identity.  Is it in the image we see in the mirror, the compliments of others, the likes we get on social media?  Perhaps we even get our identity from another person, like our spouse, sibling, boyfriend, or girlfriend?

As this scripture says, charm and beauty are passing, so we certainly can’t rely on our looks as our sense of identity.  I’m not sorry to say to you that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or handsome you are, if you aren’t that way on the inside then it’s truly all for naught.  Maybe no one has told you that lately.

Having all the followers possible on social media or only 10, or losing friends in the real world, should still not be the way we figure out who we are.

Our sense of identity runs deeper than that.  It is who we truly are.  Do you know who you are or do you let others opinions and actions determine that for you?

We cannot allow anyone but our Father and Creator tell us who we are.  He had a plan for us at the beginning, and as a potter shapes clay, He is molding and shaping us over time into the person we are to be.

Daily, we change and grow, but always we are in His righteous right hand, and since He is the author and finisher of our faith, He is the One we should look to for the answer to who we truly are.

We will find out who we are when we spend time with our Father, in His word, in prayer, and in worship.  If you’ve been believing lies about yourself or feeling “less than” or even “more than” about yourself lately, spend some time with the Lord and He will give You a true sense of your identity.  He will let you know who you are in Him, and guide you on the path He has for you.

He has plans for us if we are only willing to accept them and trust Him enough to give in.

What’s it to be?  Who will you trust today?

jamie

Here is a song to get you started in worship.  Go to the Word next…

 

I shall not criticize! — Pastor Kemp’s Blog

I promise you, there are far worse “word bombs” than four letter words. At the top of the list is criticism. Being critical is not a spiritual gift and it sure stinks up the place with negativity and lower morale. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude […]

via I shall not criticize! — Pastor Kemp’s Blog

Don’t watch me…

“I don’t want anyone watching me.  I don’t think I’m an example for anyone.”  That’s what our Sunday school teacher said Sunday morning.  I’ve heard celebrities say that they aren’t trying to be anyone’s role model, an example for anyone, or that being such is too much pressure.

My Sunday school teacher followed his statement up with the fact that people are still looking.  The fact is, we are setting an example for people with everything we do.  We are either setting a good example or a bad one.  We don’t have to be a celebrity to do that.

Brothers and sisters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, friends and colleagues, church members and club members…we are all setting an example by our behavior, day in and day out.

You may not want it to be so, but the fact is that it’s true.  People are watching.  It’s what we do.  We watch.  We evaluate.  We learn.

Is your behavior setting a good example?  Have you ceased to care?  Have you given up?  Or do you still get a twinge of guilt when you see someone watching?  It’s never too late to change!

What you do matters!

Why?  For the approval of others?  No.  To impress others or make an impression of perfection?  Certainly not.  We all know we aren’t perfect.

It matters because we are representing Jesus Christ!  We are the temple, walking around, housing the Holy Spirit.  He is within us, and people are watching what we do with that temple.

We are either pointing them to Him, or we are pushing them away.  We are either showing that we trust in Him or that there’s no hope.  We are either showing that He is our Lord and King, or that our flesh or this world and all its lustful desires rule our lives.

We are an example, either good are bad, and people are watching.  It’s time to decide which way we’re gonna walk.

I’m an example, too,

jamie