A story of integrity

Pr. 11:3:  “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The word that piqued my interest in this verse this morning was ‘guide.’  I find it interesting that the thing that will guide us is integrity.  It’s not just recommended or a good idea, integrity will guide us.

Have you ever thought about that before?  Have you ever thought, “If I want some guidance today, I will start with integrity!”?  I sure haven’t.

When we’re making plans and decisions; however, if you really think about it, integrity does determine which path we choose to take.

Ok, here’s an example:  There are days when I’d love to nothing but sit on the couch and read all day.  Seriously, all day.  My integrity; however, will not allow me to do that because I have responsibilities in my home.  My integrity drives me to keep up my end of things and do my work.  So, I take an allotted amount of time to read, and then I move on to my other tasks.

Let’s look at the other side of this verse:  the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.  We can probably all give examples of this.  Lying sets us up to be found out and to lose others’ trust.  Cheating and stealing can get us punished in all kinds of ways.  Constant excuses render us unreliable.  Unforgiveness and lack of mercy clothe us in bitterness and anger that affects all of our relationships.  A consistent track record of these kind of things causes our character, and sometimes our quality of life, to be destroyed.

2 Cor. 3:3 talks about being an epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God.  Our lives are a story.  If we allow integrity and the Holy Spirit to guide us, then our story points to Christ and His love.  We don’t have to declare ourselves as good people, as honest and faithful, or even as Christians.  Our actions tell that story for us.

If perversity guides us, we are telling a much different story, and no matter what we think, that truth and destruction cannot be hidden.  It is there for all to see.

So today, we need to look to integrity to help us determine what choices we will make.  If integrity is our guide, our actions will reflect it.

Seek out that guide today,

jamie

 

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Month of Prayer, Day 11

Lord, Your Word has indeed given me life.  Your Word is strength to my flesh and hope for my soul.  I comfort myself with Your Word.  I remember all You have done in the past, and then look with hope towards my own future.  I know that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that if You have done it before, You can certainly do it again.  Help me to remember that in the midst of my trials.

Your Word teaches me how to avoid being wicked and reveals the promises and assurances that come with righteousness.  Deliver me from wickedness, and direct my way aright, just as Your Word promises.  According to Your Word, let me flourish like foliage, and find favor, honor, and wisdom.  Help me to be a tree of life, winning souls, and revealing your love to those around me.

Lord, keep me from gossiping, greed, and cruelty.  Let my life point straight to You.

I thank You for the Word, that gives me hope and strength.  You not only made a way for our salvation through Your Son, but You gave us Your Word to guide our way.  What a great God You are!

I love you, Lord, and I give You all the praise and honor and glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Investing in eternal life

Pr. 11:4:  “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

I just finished a book series that took place after an outbreak of a pandemic disease wiped out 80% of the world’s population.  Children were orphaned, farms were abandoned, industry and retail ceased.  Money could no longer buy a single thing on the earth.  Everyone was suddenly on equal grounds…all simply trying to survive.

This verse reminds me of that.  On the day the Lord returns, our riches, material possessions, status, and opulence won’t save us.  Only righteousness (living right with God) will deliver us from death.

The question begs to be asked of us all:  Are you investing more time into gaining or upkeep of riches that will not profit or into gaining or sustaining your relationship with God, which will quite literally save you from death?

As I think about the plans I’ve made for my day, with this verse in mind, I can see that my plans are a bit unbalanced.  Thankfully I still have time to readjust those plans before the day is up.  So do you.  🙂

Calibrating the scale,

jamie

The safety net of hope

Pr. 11:14:  “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

I’ve been reading some of Paul’s letters to different churches.  Being a travelling missionary, he couldn’t always be present at the churches, so he would write them letters of counsel.  I flipped through and realized how many of those churches I’ve been like over my lifetime.

I’ve been like the church in Thessalonica, young in the Lord, and excited to live for Him!

Oh, but then I’ve turned into the church of Galatia.  Deceived by false teaching, I would believe that in order to be accepted by God, I had to follow the law again.  I allowed guilt, pressure, comparison, or the example of some to lead my away from the salvation of Jesus Christ, and into the thinking that I am saved by my works…not by God’s grace.

Then, I would find my way back to God’s grace, understanding that salvation comes from Him alone, and I would find myself becoming more like the Ephesian church.  Maturing in my spirituality, truly trusting in God’s grace and His strength, walking in unity with my fellow believers, and growing in wisdom, I would be more whole.

After that season of beautiful growth, I would become like the church in Colosse.  I would get distracted from my spiritual growth, and instead, grow in immorality.

Then, after true repentance, I’d be back to baby steps, starting out like a new baby trying to get back to my Savior.  Feeling young and vulnerable again, I would once again be like the church in Thessalonica, excited to give my life to Christ again, and ready to begin taking care of my spiritual growth again.

Just the way Paul counseled the churches through his letters and through the fellow believers he sent their way, I have been counseled along the way by mentors, teachers, Pastors, friends, and the Word of God throughout my inconsistent journey.

I am so thankful that the Lord never let me fall so far that I couldn’t find my way back to Him.  There was a safety that came from the many ‘counselors’ that navigated me through.  Be encouraged today, He can do the same for you.

Certainly I’m not done with my journey.  By God’s grace, I find myself currently in an Ephesian-like season, growing daily closer to Him.  Although it is my hope to remain in that place going forward, I understand that until I’m home in heaven, I will never have it all together.  That’s the beauty of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and renewal.

I encourage us today to be ‘counselors’ for others on their journey.  I pray we will be the instruments God can use to provide the safety they need to block their fall.  Let’s use Paul as our example and encourage those around us in the Lord.  He’s not finished with us yet!

Redeemed,

jamie

 

Growing up for a reason

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”  1 Cor. 3:1

Pr. 11:30 reminds us that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  It is hard to win souls when we’re still babes in Christ.

Babies need almost constant attention.  When they’re not sleeping they need to be fed, held, cleaned, and kept safe.

There comes a time in our spiritual journey that we must make the decision to grow up.  We must begin feeding and caring for ourselves, not depending on others to provide us with everything.  We must learn to trust God to hold us and clean us up, not expecting others around us to be the ones who do so.

Of course, we all have moments when we need the love and care of those around us; however, when we find that we need that almost constantly it is an indication that perhaps we are still behaving as babes.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world preaching and baptizing.  Solomon reminded us that winning souls is the wise thing to do.  In order to do these things, we must have something to offer.

Babies are born helpless and have almost nothing to offer others.  They have to learn and grow so that they can begin contributing to the world around them.  Likewise, we must continue to grow in our trust in God and in our knowledge of Him so that we have something to offer those around us who are truly in need.

The best place to start is…drum roll, please…the Word.  When we begin feeding ourselves the Bread of Life each day, we are beginning to grow up and care for ourselves.

Once we get used to feeding ourselves, we can begin cleaning ourselves up through prayer.  Asking God for forgiveness and direction cleans us up and gives us wisdom for our next steps.  Thanking God for His blessings causes us to become grateful, which is a very grown up attribute.

With these skills, we will then find ourselves running to God to be held.  We will have grown in our understanding of who our Provider, Comforter, Helper, Deliverer, and Savior truly is.  We will know that when we need help the most, the safest, most dependable place to run is to the arms of our Father in heaven.

Armed with all this knowledge, we can then teach others that these same things are true.  We can point them to the same Father, who gives us the safety to be His baby, and the wisdom to grow into spiritual adults.

Growing up alongside you,

jamie

Doing good for your own soul

Pr. 11:17:  “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Well, I could walk around kicking puppies and stepping on people’s feet, but with an already fractured shin, I would not only hurt them, but further hinder my own recovery and possibly injure myself even more.  The same is true for any cruelty.

Showing mercy is like this heating pad on my knee…not only does it keep me from hurting others (since I’m sitting in one spot, minding my own shortcomings), but it brings warmth, comfort, and relief as my body is healing.

Just thinking out loud,

jamie

 

Continuing on “Trusting in the Provider”

Ever since I posted my blog this morning, my mind has been bombarded with this one central thought:

Replace ‘what if’ with ‘even if’

No need to worry, “What if everything breaks all at once?”  Instead, “Even if everything breaks all at once, God will provide.”

No need to worry, “What if someone gets sick?”  Instead, “Even if someone gets sick, God will provide.”

No need to worry, “What if we don’t have enough money to pay this bill?”  Instead, “Even if we don’t have enough money to pay this bill, God will provide.”

No need to worry, “What if we get into a wreck on our trip?”  Instead, “Even if there is a wreck, God will provide.”

No need to worry, “What if my child doesn’t get on the team or into that school?”  Instead, “Even if he or she doesn’t get in, God will provide.”

You get the point.  Anytime the words “what if” enter our minds, we can replace it with “even if,” and remember that God will always provide.  There is Nothing our God cannot do!

Just had to share,

jamie