Messes and all…

When I got to the couch this morning to do my devotions, I moved the couch pillow and discovered crumbs from my son’s snack of chips last night.  “Ugh!” was my immediate reaction.  Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me.  So I left them there, took a picture, and opened up my Bible to Psalm 103.

The Lord redeems our lives from destruction.  He crowns us with lovingkindness & tender mercies.  He is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to them, but sent His Son as the Way of salvation.

The Lord’s mercy is a great as the heavens are high, and He removes our sins and mistakes from us.  He pities us as a father pities his children.  (hmmmmm)  He knows our frame, remembering that we are dust….

I thought about how many messes I have tried to hide or cover up.  I thought about how many crumbs I’ve left behind in my life and how many mistakes I’ve made.  Yet, my heavenly Father continually has mercy upon me, and He pities me, remembering my frame.

How will I react towards my son’s little chip mess here beside me?  Will I guide him?  Absolutely.  Will I be a tyrant, lording over him the rules in frustration?  After reading this, I cannot.  Will I show mercy?  That’s exactly what I will do.  I’ve made my own mistakes, and I’ve been forgiven!  I have to model the same forgiveness my Father shows me.

It may not be chips on your couch, but whatever situation you find yourself facing today, I pray you’ll remember to be slow to anger, to show mercy, and to deal in lovingkindness.

dusting myself off,

jamie

 

Permission to depart

“He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  Mt. 14:13

Something in ministry that we all worry about it being available to the people.  We should be, but we must remember that need to be refreshed, as well.  If we are modeling our lives after Jesus, then let’s model this part of our lives after Him, as well.

Even Jesus would separate Himself for times of emotional recharging (as in the verse above), or times of prayer.  That ensured that when He would come back to the people He would have something to give them besides a frazzled, “I’m hanging on by a thread and just barely getting things done”, exhausted, Lord who is only giving them pieces of Himself; or a Lord who hasn’t prayed in 3 days because He hasn’t found the time.

Throughout the gospels you will find Scriptures that show Christ getting away by Himself, or getting away with those closest to Him…away from the multitudes…just to recharge and refocus.  See Mt. 17 when He took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain.  It was just the 4 of them and they went for 1 special reason.  Not everyone was invited to this.  Not all 12 disciples, not the whole crowd; and Jesus didn’t just go alone for this one.  These were the ones He needed to be with.

It is ok for us to put our phones away for an hour or 2 (get away from the multitude), go off with our certain one or few for something special (or nothing special), or spend time alone recharging so that when we come back we have more to give in our ministries.

Each time Jesus came back from one of those times, the multitudes were waiting and there was work to do.  He had compassion on them and got to work, but He was refueled and ready.  The work of ministry (and life) will never end, so we must take care to carve out those times of ‘departing’ on our own.  No one else can do that for us…no one will.

Let’s be like Jesus and depart from multitude before it gets out of hand.  Schedule it if you need to.  Refocus, recharge, and come back recharged and ready for ministry…just like Jesus did.

And when He went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with great compassion for them…

jamie

He chose you

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”

Yes.  There is more to that Scripture in Eph. 1:4, but this morning, I wanted to point out to you and to me that God chose us before the foundation of the world.  If you’ve been wondering if you were chosen, if there has been any doubt in your mind if the gospel message is for you, if you weren’t sure if you were lovable enough for Him, then let this verse reassure you this morning…He chose YOU before the foundation of the world.  And then He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to ensure that Your salvation would be in place if you chose to believe.

Thursday night I went to visit an elderly man that I have befriended over the last few years.  He is a precious man that has spoken encouragement and life into me over the last couple of years, and when I went into his house he said that his heart was racing with me being there because he was so excited to see me.  When I left there that night I was in tears.

This man chose me.  He chose to be my friend, to speak encouragement into my life, to want to be my friend; and when he saw me, his heart was literally racing with excitement.  That says so much to me.  I went there to see him because I love him, but I left there feeling so overwhelmed with love.

God chose us before the foundations of the world!  He speaks life and encouragement into us through His Word more than any person could ever do.  He sent His only Son to die so that we could be with Him for eternity.  That’s how much He wants to be with us.  Y’all!  He wants us!  We are chosen!  If you have ever doubted it…let those doubts be erased now.  He loves You!

His,

jamie

Got my grace. Which way now?

It’s time to conclude yesterday’s story about the freedom & grace Jesus Christ gave us through His death.  His death fulfilled the law and removed the bondage of sin.  He won the victory for us!  However, Paul warns that we shouldn’t use the freedom we’ve been given as an opportunity to live in the flesh…in other words, we can’t just live any ol’ way we want.  We aren’t called to serve our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit.

It is when we are led by the Spirit of the Lord that we are no longer under the law because the Spirit proves it through us.  When we are led only by the flesh, we want things that are in direct opposition to the Spirit.  Here are some examples that Paul gives of things that the flesh wants:  adultery, impatience, drunkenness, fornication, envy, prostitution, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambitions, anger, and others.  Can we be forgiven of these things?  Absolutely!  But if we simply live a lifestyle of these things then we are not being led by the Spirit, because these things are in opposition to His desires.

When we are led by the Spirit, it shows up in our lives in ways like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will bear one another’s burdens, not bite and devour one another with our words and actions, and we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

Paul said if we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life.  In other words, after we have accepted the grace of God, it isn’t about the customs and traditions that we perform; but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the evidence will come through in our lives in ways like kindness, goodness, love, self-control, etc. Every day we will have a choice to make, “Will I walk by the flesh, or by the Spirit?”  One will corrupt us, and one will point us and those around us to the Father.

I, for one, want to be led by the Spirit.  Those times when I’ve been led by my flesh have never turned out so well, and I’ve lost many an opportunity to be a witness for the Lord.  It’s time to let Him be in control.  Not only will we be able to show more love and be able to witness more, but it will take the pressure off of us, as well.  Let Him take control and lead the way.  We already know where it leads.  🙂

walking there alongside you,

jamie

Burdened under the law

The Galatian church was a church being turned away from the grace of Jesus.  Paul had taught them, they’d believed, but someone had come into their midst and caused them to believe that grace wasn’t enough.  Sound familiar?  Suddenly, they started thinking they had to begin observing the old Jewish customs again of the Passover, the Feasts, festivals, and other areas of the law.  They were even about to become circumcised.  They went back to the old ways because what they were doing wasn’t enough.  It couldn’t be enough, could it?

Paul asked them if they really believed that if they started out in the Spirit of the Lord were they were now being made perfect by what they were doing in the flesh?  He implored them, “Stand fast in the freedom by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”  Over and over, he reminded them that Jesus fulfilled the law and brought grace and victory for a reason.  He said that if we bind ourselves within the confines of the law again then Christ died for nothing.  Christ died to fulfill the law once and for all, and anyone who tells us otherwise is not of God.

That freedom doesn’t mean we should simply live or speak however we choose, however.  There is more to the story…

Tune in again tomorrow,

jamie

Loving like God

Reading through the first few chapters of Galatians this morning I was struck by the beauty of the gift of God’s grace–in the fact that He truly doesn’t judge us by our works.

This past week I’ve had several times where I’ve been able to let my guard down with people and just be me and it’s been so amazingly refreshing in a world where our performance is “king.”

It’s exhausting to have to perform constantly, because then you have to out-perform the next time, and the next time, and the next… but if we can just admit that “this is me” and I’m imperfect and although I’m doing the best I can, what I’m most grateful for is that God isn’t judging me on my performance.  He loves me for who I am.  If I have faith that He says who He say He is, then that’s enough for Him.

If, in our relationships with others, we can not expect people to perform to perfection, but love them for who they are…who they were created to be, we will be releasing them to be free from a burden that even God Himself didn’t place upon them.

Yes, we need to be responsible humans, and we should keep our word.  But some days we’ll be brilliant and get it all done, and other days we’ll fall flat on our face.  The performance of the day is not the sum total of who we are.

Gal. 4:7 says, “We are an heir of God through Christ.”

We are more than our mistakes.  They happen.  Get up.  And keep moving.  Apologize if necessary.  Always forgive.  Laugh about it if at all possible!

Tripping up,

jamie

 

this is the performance pic, the other one was a “mistake”…it made us laugh harder, though. 😉

 

Broken, but not forsaken

I heard a sermon on Sunday night that reminded us that a lot of times before we go into a season of being given out to be used by the Lord we go through a season of being broken, like bread.

I keep thinking about that, and what I love about God is that during that time when we are broken, He doesn’t allow us to be broken into crumbs and spread out in such a way that we cannot be whole again.  If we are like bread, He continues to hold the 2 pieces in His 2 capable hands the entire time, ensuring that we are well and cared-for, never alone, or truly crumbled; and we are never crushed!  Sometimes we feel that way, but all the while, He is holding us.  We are in his hands.  We are safe, and when it passes, He will use that time of brokenness as a way for us to minster to the people in our lives.

He never lets go!

“He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.”  Ps. 23:3

You are held,

jamie