Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 21

Lord, I’m glad I can trust You.  I can look back at the examples of Your faithfulness to me, to my loved ones, and to those in the Bible.  I can see Your hand at work time after time and know that You are still the God that is in control.

When I hear Your Word and apply my heart to Your knowledge; when I keep Your Word within me, then I can know and remember Your excellence and Your faithfulness.  My trust in You can continue and grow.  I hope in Your Word.  It upholds me, and guides me.  It gives me life.

I have been trained in Your Word since I was a child, and for that I am thankful.  Your Word says that I will not depart from that training.  No matter how many times I allowed myself to be distracted from You or chose to live outside of Your will, Your Word within me was a constant reminder that I was choosing foolishness.  It brought me back to You.

Thank You for being my hiding place and my shield, Lord.  I can trust and depend on You to protect me and keep me safe.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who guides, comforts, and empowers me.

I love Your Holy Spirit.  I love feeling Your presence upon me; knowing You are guiding me.  You overwhelm me with Your power.  I love knowing that You can use me for Your will.  Thank You for that gift.

Guide me today, Lord, so that my life reflects the trust and hope I have in You.  You are a good God, and You do not forsake us.  In that we can rely.

Thank You for hearing my prayers today, Lord, according to Your Word.  I am thankful that You are my God.  I am thankful for hope.

I love you, Lord,

jamie

The proof is in the pudding

Pr. 21:3:  “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

I know what God means.  Last week my daughter got in trouble.  She said she was sorry.  🙂 Very nice.  The next day, it happened again.  The next day, again.  Those words, “I’m sorry,” sure lost their meaning.

I explained to my daughter that she could tell me she was sorry 1,000 times and it wouldn’t mean anything unless I saw her making different choices.  Her actions were contrary to her words, and the actions were the ones that ultimately counted most.

James tells us that faith without works is dead.  Certainly, we are not saved by our works.  It is Jesus’ death and our belief in Him that saves us.  However, our actions sure speak loudly of who we really are.

We can say we trust God’s word to be true, but just like in the case of my daughter, our actions speak much louder than our words.  Do we show we believe God’s word to be true by the way we behave and the choices that we make?

When we see needs around us, do we respond, or just walk by thinking God will use someone else to provide?

Does our trust in God show up when we need something we cannot provide for ourselves?

When we commit sin, do we tell God how sorry we are and then go right back to that sin, or do we show Him that He is more important, by making the choice to stop sinning and run to Him?

Do we obey the Lord’s voice we He tells us to do something?

When we fail to be obedient to the Lord, does our regret cause us to be obedient next time, regardless of our doubts or concerns, or do we do the same thing over and over again?

Like it or not, our actions show who we really are.  Just like my daughter, I sometimes forget this truth.  It’s great to be a believer in Christ, it’s even better to prove it.

This one stung a bit,

jamie

 

 

Do others find favor from you?

Pr. 21:10:  “The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

Several years ago our house was robbed.  If you’ve ever experienced that, you know how violating it is.  Our daughter was still young enough to be in a crib and my husband worked 2nd shift.  The first night after it happened, I was so afraid to leave my daughter alone in her room that I fell asleep on the floor in front of her crib until my husband came home from work.  I knew it wasn’t entirely rational, but it made me feel better at the moment.

The fingerprints and an eyewitness linked the robbery to one of our neighbors.  Our very own neighbor broke into our house and robbed us.  We were never very comfortable in that house again.  In fact, it wasn’t long before we sold it and moved.

There are times that the desire of sin and evil becomes so strong that no relationship is exempt.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a different scenario where a neighbor, friend, or even a family member desired evil so strongly that they wouldn’t even spare you.  Perhaps you’re the one who hurt those close to you.

Why does this happen?  Sin.  It causes our focus to become so narrow that we see only what we want and blinds us to others around us.  We go so strongly after our sinful desire that anyone in our path is at risk of being hurt.

We can’t control others, but we can make wise decisions about our own actions.  We can become so focused on God and His desires that sinful desires become less and less desirable.  We can become so focused on the work to which He has called us that we see others and their needs with very clear eyes.

God’s plans for us and for those around us are for good.  If we’re focused on Him and His ways, we won’t want to hurt others anymore.  Of course, we will still have temptations, battles, and trials, but He is willing and able to aid us through.

When we desire God, others will find favor in our eyes, and perhaps that will be all the encouragement they need follow suit.

His,

jamie

What are you preaching?

Pr. 21:29:  “A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way.”

Yesterday we talked about our beautiful feet, and how our lives, that point to Jesus, preach.  (You have beautiful feet)  Notice the catch there?  When our lives point to Jesus, we preach His gospel.  When our lives do not, well…

Sometimes I preach fear.  Didn’t God say He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind?  Sometimes I’m so tired that it would almost seem like my strength doesn’t come from the Lord.  Sometimes I worry so much that I appear to have no Provider that faithfully supplies all my needs.

When we our willingly living in sin, we point others to satan.  When we allow bondage and temptation to drive our actions, we are preaching something other than the freedoms that come from Christ.  When we talk only about things gone wrong in our lives or our world, we preach that praise is not our weapon.  When we don’t open our Bibles to seek or our mouths to pray, we preach that we have no need of a Savior.

If our actions preach, then we need to be very aware of which actions we are choosing.  We must not harden our hearts or faces.  Ro. 12:1 begs that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; reminding us that this is our reasonable service.

When we establish our way, our actions will reflect that choice.  We must not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove (preach) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God will renew our minds daily when we spend time with Him.  His mercies are new each morning.  He is the portion we need every day, and when we have established our way in Him we can have the strong assurance in the hope we have in Him.  With that, our lives will preach the gospel of peace…the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Established,

jamie

Isn’t that a bit hasty?

Pr. 21:5:  “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” 

If you are riding in a car with my kids for any length of time, you will hear them listing off the things they want.  “I wish we could go to the park.”  “I want to go to McDonald’s.”  “I wish God would move our house to that field with all that land so we could have animals.”  “I want a lightsaber.”  “I wish we could get ice cream.”  Seriously, it just goes on and on.  The longer the ride, the more wishes that are voiced.  They aren’t demanding these things, mind you; just thinking out loud.

They aren’t the only ones.  I’m not a big window shopper.  If I don’t go to stores, then I’m not aware of what I’m missing.  Once I step foot inside a store, I see all kinds of things I didn’t even know I “needed.”  HA!  I’m sure I could come up with a list of things I want to buy or do right now if I thought enough about it.

Solomon warns that being hasty leads to poverty.  How true.  If my kids, or I (the one with the check book), just started doing all the things they say they want, we wouldn’t have enough money for the things we need.  We can’t go to McDonald’s, Sweet Frog, the beach, etc. every single trip and still have money for electricity, food, or savings.  More than that, if we spent all our money on those impulsive ideas they have, we wouldn’t have the money to do the other things that they really like even more.  They simply don’t have the brain capacity just yet to understand that some things are worth Not doing so that you can do the things you really want to do.

We have to teach our kids how to be diligent planners.  How?  Well, we don’t give in to their every whim…or our own.  We don’t go out impulsively buying or doing things that catch our eye or our fancy.  Before I grocery shop with my kids, I even make a point to pray with them that we will make wise decisions and that God will direct us with wisdom.

It’s really a good reminder for all of us.  It’s good to let an idea or an impulse marinate over night once in a while to make sure you have peace about it, or to make sure you actually “need” it.  And there is nothing wrong with planning to save up for something or planning to do it another time as a reward.  Sometimes that can even be more exciting!  We are reminded that the plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty.  Sounds like we will have exactly what we need.

Guarding my wallet,

jamie

Dreaming the very possible dream

Pr. 21:25-26:  “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”

The first example that comes to my mind pertains to losing weight.  How many times have we heard people wish out loud (or perhaps done it ourselves) that they would eat better and lose weight.

“Oh, it’s frustrating being overweight.”  “I need to start eating better.”  “I wish I could wear clothes like that, run a 5k, or have that much energy.”  The list goes on and on.

Stating the desire out loud can cause deep sorrow or depression when the one speaking it knows they will do nothing to achieve that goal.  It may seem like dreaming the impossible dream.

The reality; however, is that by making the decision to put forth the labor, the weight could in fact come off.  Deciding that the desire is worth the effort, one could finally begin to say no to unhealthy foods and yes to healthy choices.

There are lots of examples of this:  saving money, getting out of debt, reading the Bible more, taking time for ourselves each day, spending more time with family, learning that hobby we’ve been dreaming about, beginning a foundation, joining a ministry…the list could go on and on.

What is it that you’ve been desiring, but feeling as if it were an impossible dream?

Ask The Lord to help you.  Nothing is impossible for God, and with Him all things are possible.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

As Christians, we must remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear.  There is nothing we can’t do with God on our side.  God gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.

A sound mind.  When we decide our desire is worth the labor, and we ask The Lord to help us, we can grasp that desire with hands full of power.  We do not have live under the heaviness of unfulfilled desires.  We can reach out, through God, and see our desires come to life.

Today is the day when we can begin the labor that will see our desire fulfilled!  Ask God to help, and let’s get to work.

Laboring,

jamie