Which fruit are you eating?

Pr. 1:31:  “Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies.”

I have eaten the ‘fruit of my own way’ more times than I care to admit. I must say, that while it may have tasted sweet for a moment, it turned quickly bitter, and left an aftertaste not to be desired.

We’ve all done it.  We have wanted to be full of our own fancies, and have our own way.  Perhaps we have even tried to push the voice of wisdom to the back and keep trodding through the mud and muck of sin to have just a bit more.  Sad, but true, huh?

The beautiful thing about the fruit of the Spirit is that it doesn’t require such a struggle.  When we choose to live for God, and walk in the Spirit, we take the path without the mud.  In fact, we can soar above it, on wings like eagles.  There is no conscience to step over.  There is certainly no bitter taste.  And the aftertaste?  Heavenly.

I can’t help but think of the lyrics of Blessed Assurance that say, “Oh what a foretaste of glory devine.”  The fruit of God’s way not only nourishes and fills us here and now; its nutritional benefits are eternal and more wonderful than we can even begin to imagine.  Thank You, Lord, for Your fruit!

Bon Appetit!

jamie

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Month of prayer, Day 1

Lord, in Pr. 1, we read the words a father has lovingly written to his son.  He beseeches his son to hear his father’s instruction and his mother’s law.  He writes words to impart instruction and prudence upon his son.  He implores his son to shun evil counsel and listen to wisdom’s call.  He warns his son what will happen if he forsakes wisdom.

In Ps. 119:1-8, I read about another Father who has written to His children for those same reasons.  I read that those who walk in Your law and keep Your testimonies will be blessed.  I am reminded that You have instructed us in Your rules, Your precepts, and beseeched us to keep them diligently.  If we would but do that, Lord, we would not be ashamed.  If we would do that, we would make wise decisions and forfeit the consequences of forsaking wisdom.  If we would shun evil and do no iniquity, we would be blessed.

Lord, help me to heed my Father’s word.  Help me to walk in Your ways, and to praise You with uprightness of heart.  Help me to listen to wisdom’s call, so that I will not have to suffer the consequences of shame.  Bless me when I seek you with my whole heart.  Bless me when I choose to walk in accordance with Your instructions.  Help me increase in prudence as I learn from Your word.

Lord, I thank you for what I read in Your word today, and I ask that You would allow these instructions to help me hear wisdom’s call more readily.  Help me to become so tuned in to Your mighty voice, that all other ‘instructions’ around me simply fade away.  Thank you for the privilege to have access to Your mind, through Your Word.

I love you,

jamie

Let love lurk

Pr. 1:11:  “If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;”

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

There is a striking difference between the attitudes in this proverb and in 1 John.  Without God, love is not shown to others.  In fact, as is demonstrated in this verse, there may be complete disregard for others well-being.

What’s lurking beneath our surface?  Are we ready to pounce on others and cause harm; or are we so saturated with God’s love that it overflows and gushes onto those around us?

When we are born of God and know God, we show love.  The love in our relationships is a very clear indicator of the knowledge of God and His love within us.  If God’s love is revealed through us, what is our love for others saying right now on His behalf?

Paying attention to my ambushes,

jamie

Not all traditions are bad

2 Thessalonians speaks of one who will come in deceit, proclaiming to be God.  Paul reminds the church that they were called by the gospel, for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He urges the church to stand fast and hold the traditions which we were taught, so as not to be deceived.

Religious traditions get a bad rap, and sometimes rightfully so.  God did not call us to ‘religion’, but to Him.  We can clearly read that Jesus didn’t care for men’s religious rules, but for true worship and belief.

On the other hand, some traditions are pivotal in keeping us as a true follower of Christ.  How can we follow someone we don’t know?  Reading our Bible opens our hearts and minds to truly know the Lord.  How can we have a relationship with someone with whom we don’t speak?  Praying keeps us humble before the mighty God, and open to asking for His own will in our lives.  Prayer reminds us who it is upon which we depend.

Pr. 1:3 reminds us that the traditions of prudence, knowledge, and discretion are located in God’s Word, and are also very beneficial to us.  “To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

There are deceitful teachings around us that call discretion ‘out-dated’, prudence ‘old fashioned’, and knowledge of God’s Word ‘unnecessary and narrow-minded.’  The Lord reminds us through Paul; however, that some ‘traditional’ things will keep us from being deceived by one who is not the Living God.  We were called to believe in the truth, and traditions that enhance our belief are beneficial.

I’m not telling anyone to get busy keep man’s rules.  I’m encouraging us to hold tightly to the things remind us of the truth of God’s Word, and keep us close to Him.  Those are the things that just might save our lives.

Stand fast,

jamie

Where are you God?

Pr. 1:28:  “They will call on me (says wisdom), but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.”

Last week we returned home from a 3-day trip to a find our house just as we’d left it.  There had been no fire, no break-in, no water damage, no tree through the roof–nothing.  Everything was perfect.

As I thought about this and began to thank God for His protection over our house and our lives, I recalled all the times when I’ve returned home from a trip and didn’t even stop to fully consider it.  I thought of all the things we could have returned home to find, and things that I know others have returned to find before.

I thought about how it can be so easy to blame God when things go wrong.  It seems so normal that we ask or wonder why God allowed unfortunate things to happen.  Why is it that it took me until this trip to come home specifically thanking God that there was no tree on my roof, or water damage to our home?  Why hasn’t it been the most natural thing for me to praise Him for the fact that fire did not burn our home down or destroy our pictures and possessions while we were away?

This proverb reminds me of how we can sometimes wait until disaster strikes to look for God.  Then, we wonder where He is or why He allowed it.  Did we thank Him every other time that it didn’t?  Were we talking to Him daily beforehand, nurturing our relationship with Him?

In this proverb, wisdom didn’t answer nor show herself to those who call upon her or sought her.  Why not?  Because she had been trying to get their attention every other moment before this and they ignored her, turned their backs on her, and refused her.  Now, when they needed her most and finally decided to call for her, she wasn’t there.  She was allowing them to have their own way, just as they had always wanted.  Wisdom means business!

But where is God when disaster strikes?  He is right there, ready to offer peace, strength, refuge, and hope….right where He has always been.  He is the same God that was there every other time disaster did not strike.  He is the same God that offered protection 5 minutes before.

We don’t need to wait until it’s too late to look for or call upon God, and only then to place blame.  We must nurture our relationship with Him from moment to moment, knowing that He loves and cares for us the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His plans for us are good, He always provides, and we have a great reward ahead, just like we always did.

Call for Him now,

jamie

An enigma explained

Pr. 1:5-6:  “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.”

Continuing in Acts 8 today I again found Philip, doing something for which he is probably more famous than the verses I referred to yesterday.

In vs. 26 an angel of the Lord told him to get up and go south.  Philip did so and found a very powerful Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah.  Philip asked the man, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And the man said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  He then asked Philip to come sit with him, read him a passage that was confusing him, and asked Philip to explain.

Philip then explained, preaching Jesus to him and the man was baptized immediately.  Hallelujah!

Sometimes the Word can be an enigma.  The proverb above says that wise people increase learning and attain wise counsel.

If there is something in the Word that we don’t understand, we don’t need to be afraid to ask for help.  That is wisdom, and the Word was given to us in order that we may know our Lord.

If, like Philip, the Holy Spirit sends us to someone who does not understand, we must trust that God will give us the words.  But we must know the Lord and His Word in order to share.  We must continue to feed on the Word of God (the Bread of Life) and spend time with the Lord in prayer.

Philip was ready to explain.  The Holy Spirit called upon him, knowing full well that Philip was the one for the job.  Certainly God was with Philip the entire time, and Philip was not only willing, but also able.  He was full of the Lord and able to offer the Ethiopian the same gift.

Sometimes people are just waiting for someone to show up and guide them.  Perhaps we’re the ones for the job.

Keep feeding on that Bread!

jamie

 

That necklace is Perfect for you!

Pr. 1:8-9:  “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for the will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”

Several years ago, when my sister-in-law began her journey with breast cancer, she sent out 7 necklaces.  Each necklace had a letter from the word JOURNEY.  I remember receiving mine in the mail and feeling the weight and privilege of it.  It felt very heavy because of the diagnosis and turmoil that I understood would accompany it; but it was a privilege because she entrusted me to pray with her, reach out to her, and be on her side along the way.

I wore my necklace every day and would sometimes touch it during the day, reminding myself of all she was going through, or facing in the future.  It was a great reminder for me of what was going on in her life.

Solomon compares hearing the instruction of your father and not forsaking the law of your mother to graceful ornaments on our head and chains about our neck.  I certainly don’t believe he meant heavy construction chains.  I believe he meant something more like that necklace my sister-in-law sent to me.  I believe he is saying to his son that the instructions and law would be good reminders for him throughout his life.  Those reminders would guide and protect him.

The entire law of God is the same way.  God does not place heavy chains upon us or bind us with His law.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  His precepts are like these graceful ornaments and chains of remembrance.  Heeding His instruction protects us, keeps us safe, and keeps us mindful of what is truly important.

We all need reminders.  Just as that necklace reminded me to pray for my sister-in-law, God’s instructions and laws remind me to be mindful of things above.  They remind me why I am really here, and what my purpose truly is.  They remind me whose I am.  They remind me that I am not alone on this earth.  I have a Father who has reached out to me and given me His Word to keep me safe and give me everlasting life.

God’s law reminds me that there is One who cares for me so much that He would set things in place to provide protection for me.  The instruction in His Word reminds me that He is aware of me and my needs.  He is my Provider, my Shepherd, my Deliverer, Healer, Help in time of need.  He is my everything.

It is good for us to heed the instruction and law of our Lord and Savior, and to “wear” them as reminders.  They will allow God to guide and protect us all the days of our lives.

Being reminded,

jamie