Month of Prayer, Day 14

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.  The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.”  Ps. 119:71-72.  Lord, in 2011, I wrote in my Bible that this is my testimony.  Remembering the battle that had just been won in my life, I know this was true.  I look at that now, after having fought for 4 1/2 years with physical mysteries and I notice my heart is a bit hardened towards those words.  I don’t like being afflicted.

But Lord, You have indeed dealt well with me.  According to Your Word, You have walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  You have been my comfort.  You have led me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.  You have been my shepherd who restores.  You have been a place of refuge.  You have turned me away from the snares of death.  And I thank You.

Surely I can have strong confidence in the One who does all those things.  Surely I can rest on the promises of the One who is consistently faithful.  Although there have been times of tearing in my life, I have also seen healing.  When I focus my thoughts on You, I see promise.  Isn’t that what Your Word encourages us to do?  Pr. 14:14 says, “A good man will be satisfied from above.”  Col. 3:1-2 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Set Your mind on things above, not on things on earth.”

Lord, help me set my sights on You and, according to Your Word, let Your peace rule in my heart, causing me to be thankful.  Would I have desired to seek You so had I not been afflicted?  If everything were going my way, would I need a Provider?  Were my body to be in perfect shape, would I consult the Healer?  If I weren’t in pain, would I run after my Father, seeking comfort and peace?  Perhaps not.

Lord, with prudence, help me as I consider well my steps.  As I walk out this affliction day by day, let my focus remain on the One who is good and who does good.  Let my eyes stay fixed on the One who does not cast off His people, nor forsake His inheritance.  Let my trust be in the One who anoints my head with oil, and causes my cup to run over.  Let my cries be sent out to the One who hears my voice from His temple.  Let my tears be entrusted with the One who puts them in His bottle, treasuring my heart’s loyalty and trust in Him.

Lord, the care You take of me, the salvation You’ve given, and the promises You keep in Your faithfulness…surely those things are worth more than thousands of coins of gold and silver.  Thank You, Lord.

I love you,

jamie

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Satisfaction without devastation

Pr. 14:14:  “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”

I recently saw a sign that read, “Sin Captivates, Then Devastates.”  That is so true.  Sin isn’t always something that reviles us and causes us to turn away in disgust.  Sin can be so alluring.  It captivates us with special effects of glitter and lights.  Sometimes we see adventure.  Sometimes escape.  One thing is certain; however, in the end sin does devastate.

Being ‘filled with our own ways’ might seem to meet some momentary need, but it never truly satisfies.  It destroys and devours.  God not only offers satisfaction, He offers provision, refuge, strength, deliverance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and so much more.  He is truly all we could need.

Sin weighs us down with guilt, consequences, and defeat; and yet the Lord’s yoke is light.  His burden is easy.  He literally invites us to come to Him when we are heavy laden and He will give us rest for our souls.  True rest.  He is gentle.  He is humble.  He renews our strength when we wait on Him.  And He has eternal life waiting for us.

Sin does devastate.  It comes in and throws us completely off course, interrupting our relationship with the Lord, and stalling our ministry.  On the other hand, The Lord, who began a good work in us, will complete what was begun.  He enriches us, builds us up, and He is our helper.  He is the One who offers aid when we are tempted.

I’m so thankful for a God who will never devastate us.  He will leave us nor forsake us.   His promises in His Word are true, and He is faithful.

When we’re looking for true satisfaction, the only place we will find it is at the throne of our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and offer mercy and grace to help us in time of need.

At His throne,

jamie

Turn it off

Pr. 14:7:  “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.”

This verse could be talking about a lot of things.

Turn off that song when you realize the lyrics are giving you knowledge that is against what the Word says is beautiful, true, and for eternal life.

Turn off that movie or that tv show when you realize that you’re learning to become desensitized to sin and neglectful of your real purpose on this earth.

Turn off that podcast when it is teaching you something other than reliance on the Lord as your Source and your Strength.

Turn off the computer or your phone when you find yourself reading or looking at things that are draining your devotion to, or your knowledge and understanding of the Holy One.

Turn off that relationship when you know it’s not of God.

Turn off your ears when hear someone preaching a different God or Jesus than the One of the Bible.

How can we know when it’s time to ‘turn it off’?  We must know the Word.  When we know the Word, we understand more easily what things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.  (Ph. 4:8)

It’s ok!  Just turn it off.

Satan tries to distract us in the flesh, but God’s knowledge gives us life.

Jesus is the One who said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are LIFE!”  (John 6:63…exclamation mark and capitalization added by me)

Wanting more Life,

jamie

What if you’re called a fool?

This morning I read 1 Cor. 4, where Paul is talking about the apostles being fools for Christ’s sake.  Vs. 12 says, “And we labor, working with our hands.  Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.”

I’ve been reading a lot about martyr’s lately, both past and present.  Because of this, it was so striking for me this morning to think about Paul’s words.  These aren’t just words on a page.  These are the true thoughts and facts about a human being’s life.

The apostles were truly reviled.  They were left homeless and poorly clothed, spat upon, and condemned, and yet they continued to bless.  For God’s sake, they continued to bless and offer the saving truths of the gospel of Christ.

The apostles were actually persecuted.  They were beaten, threatened, jailed, and killed, and yet they endured.  Looking forward to the reward of serving Jesus Christ, they were able to continue to pour out to as many as possible until the very end.

The apostles were defamed.  They were falsely accused and imprisoned time and time again, and yet they continued to entreat those around them to accept Jesus as their Savior.  They continued to speak the gospel, even in the presence of their accusers, so that anyone whose heart may be open to hear would receive salvation full and free.

I think of the bad days I have, when I can’t get my eyes off of myself.  I think of the times I’ve been hurt, when I’ve allowed my pain to shut me down.  Then, I look at what so many have gone and are going through for the cause of Christ and I know that I still need to mature.

The apostles were the ultimate example of doing all things to the glory of God.

While our individual talents, gifts, and callings may be a little different in description, we are all part of the body working towards the same goal:  to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

In Christ, we have so much to offer those around us.  Even if the time comes when, like the apostles, we are looked upon as fools, it will have been worth it.  There is a great reward awaiting us and those who believe because of our own endurance.

We cannot keep God’s grace and His gifts all for ourselves.  They were meant to be shared.  His sacrifice makes our own sacrifices worth the price.

The song I’ve attached today reminds me that instead of wasting my time on things that don’t matter, I can give everything in my life for Him.  He’s worth it!

Stirred,

jamie

 

Confession time

Pr. 14:30:  “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”

My confession:  Last week I was envious and it almost turned ugly.

I have a good friend who just had a knee replacement in June.  She’d been feeling as though her progress was moving slowly; however, last Sunday, she was rocking some hot red cowgirl boots at church.

I knew that the fact that she could wear those boots was a huge moral booster for her!  I also knew that if she could comfortably wear those boots, she was WAY better than she knew.  I was immediately happy for her!  What a victory!

My next thought; however, was envious.  Here I am, 6 months out from having broken my shin, and I still can’t wear any “cute” shoes without immediate pain.

The speed at which my thoughts shifted was impressive, but scary.  One second I was overwhelmed with joy for my friend, and the next, I was almost eaten up by overwhelming discouragement about my own state of being.  I felt depression loom over me and try to block out happiness.  I felt the tears threatening to come, the struggle of wanting to feel ‘normal’.

This is all true.  During a 15-20 second conversation, all these things really happened.

Then, I remembered that my hope is in the Lord.  No matter the situation of my life, God’s plans for my life are for good.  When I trust in Him, I will be safe.

I gave my friend a celebratory hug, and walked away rejoicing for her.  Those thoughts tried to sneak back up on me a couple of times during the week, but I refused to indulge them.  God has different plans for my friend than He does for me.

No matter if I can never wear what I consider “cute” shoes again, I am here to do the work that He has planned for me.  Perhaps that work requires a slower pace and a more comfortable shoe.

Our hearts can be sound by trusting in Him.  We don’t need to trust in situations, things we ‘see’ with our natural eyes, or in comparing ourselves with others.  God is the foundation on which we build something that’s sound, and won’t rot our bones.

Rocking my cutest comfy shoes,

jamie

 

Is this really the right way?

Pr. 14:8:  “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.”

We just got back from a wonderful driving vacation where we covered about 2,000 miles.  A crucial part of that trip was the map.  Without that map, we would not have known where to go.  We had a very specific route and order that we wanted to follow.  Just to be sure, we had it on paper and on the gps.  We wanted to ensure we got where we desired to go when we desired to be there.

This verse speaks to us about how important it is to truly understand our way.  The destination we have in mind for ourselves is good, but we have to choose the path that will get us there.  Not all paths lead to a life full of integrity.  Not all paths lead to a good reputation, a faithful marriage, a life of missions, the job or ministry to which we feel led, or even to heaven.

Keeping our final destination in mind, we cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that another path will still end at the same spot.  We also cannot allow others to deceive us, telling us it’s ok to take another path.

With help from the best guide of all, The Holy Spirit, we must strive to understand our way; whether it will lead us to our desired destination or not.  We cannot become lackadaisical on our journey, allowing ourselves to wander down paths that lead us in another direction.

Speaking specifically to heaven, there is but One way.  His name is Jesus Christ.  No matter how many detours the world throws our way, we must use prudence to understand the truth.

Staying alert,

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