I’m #1! I’m #1!

Pr. 27:2:  “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips”

We sometimes want to brag on ourselves for a number of reasons, but man, isn’t it so much better when some random person brags on us?  It really is.  (Although I do occasionally tell people when I complete I’ve been putting off and tell them, point-blank, to be proud of me. 😛 )

I’d also rather brag on someone than to hear them go on and on about their own accomplishments.  ha!  It may surprise some of those people to hear that, but when you are doing a good job of something it usually doesn’t go unnoticed.

I was helping in a 6th-8th grade cooking class this year and there was a student that was constantly looking for ways to be helpful.  Honestly, you couldn’t have stopped her if you tried.  She went out of her way to be helpful; even staying longer than the other students to make sure everything was cleaned up.  She also had a smile on her face and was just a delight to be around.

I praised her several weeks in a row.  Then, one week, as I was drying the dishes she was washing, I asked her about her helpfulness.  She told me that her New Years Resolution for 2018 was to be more helpful.  Well, she was definitely nailing that one!  What a lovely resolution.

I was reading Eph. 5 this morning that said that we should be imitators of God.  Jesus said that He came to serve and that we should do the same.  This young lady had resolved to imitate the greatest Servant I know, and I know that I’m not the only one who noticed.  Her obedience to His Word will earn her a reward from the Father.

Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first last,” and “He who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Mt. 20:16, Mt. 23:11)  Not only has she learned and chosen to humble herself, but she wasn’t shouting it from the rooftops for everyone to know.  It was only after I praised her and asked her why she was choosing to act so differently that she confided in me that she had made that resolution.

I was more than happy to praise this helpful young lady!  She had no need to brag.  I guess that’s the thing with being obedient to God’s Word.  When we are truly doing what it says, it works out just as it says it will.  Amazing, huh!?

This 8th grader can teach us a lot today.  Let’s learn from her example and start humbling ourselves the way Jesus told us to.  God will reward us, whether on this side of eternity or on the next.  You can count on it!

On the flip side, when we see someone doing just that, let’s make sure we say thanks!

jamie

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Month of Prayer, Day 27

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!  Many are they who rise up against me.  Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.”  But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.

I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.  I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.  I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!  For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.  Salvation belongs to the Lord.  Your blessing is upon Your people.

Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, Lord.  The entirety of Your Word is truth!  Keep jealousy far from me.  Let my heart reveal a woman of God; a woman who trusts in His Word.  With You, Lord, I can persevere.  With You, I can find the patience to endure.  For I know that, according to You Word, You are fighting for me!  Thank You, Lord!

Lord, I will not trust in only what my eyes can see, or even what I feel, but in You.  I will have faith that You will do what You say You will do, for Your Word tells me that it is impossible for You to lie.  With You, Lord, I can run and not grow weary.  I can walk and not grow faint.  Thank You for renewing my strength even as I am praying.

Thank You for Your faithfulness, My God!

I pray this in Jesus’ holy and spotless name, Amen.

 

 

Foolishness can depart

Pr. 27:22:  “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

This week I ran into a girl I knew in high school.  She mentioned a mutual friend we had and noted that while that friend had been pretending to act foolishly like us, she was really going home at night and doing her homework.  She was the only one who got a full scholarship to college and went on to have a prestigious career.

I left there with memories of the past replaying in my mind and, as is my custom, I began to feel down.  I began to recount the many, many bad and sinful decisions I have made and how they greatly altered the course of my life.

Each time I thought of a low point, I’d remember an even lower point, and then I wondered if I’m the foolish person in this proverb.  Am I the one who will never learn?  I began to worry about how it would be all too easy for me to allow one more foolish decision to cause the life I live now to crumble around me.  But isn’t that basically true for us all?

Then, I thought of God’s grace.  I remember when God stepped into my life and said, “That’s enough.”  I’m grateful to  remember the decision He used to turn my course back to Him.  I can look back and see my life changing and my decisions slowly changing to line up with His will and His word.  I can recall times when He helped me make the decision to turn my back on foolishness in an effort to be wise.

I will never be perfect; however, I am not as foolish as I once was.  I have allowed God to undertake the ongoing process of replacing my foolishness with His wisdom.  Trusting God is the wisest thing I’ve ever done.  Foolishness can depart, through Him.

Carefully,

jamie

Fruit. (with a funny story at the end)

Pr. 27:19:  “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”

What is truly in our hearts will be reflected in our actions.  We may think that we can walk in our own strength, outside of God’s will, and still appear to be living for Him, but our fruit will eventually give us away.  The truth of the fruit in our lives reveals what, or who, is really in our heart.

Galatians 5 says that when we are walking in the flesh, our fruit will show as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.

When we are walking in the Spirit, our fruit will show as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The truth of the matter is that the fruit of the flesh is what comes most naturally for us.  In our natural state, we are selfish and indulgent.  The fruit of the Spirit is just that…His fruit.  It comes from walking with Him and allowing Him to be the One to feed, water, and fertilize us.  John 15:4 reminds us that we cannot bear fruit of ourselves, unless we abide in the Vine.  Jesus is the Vine, and our Father is the Vinedresser.  When we abide in Jesus, we will bear much fruit, and that fruit will be of the Spirit.

Our flesh wars against the Spirit, just as drought, pestilence, and heat war against healthy plants in nature. We must pay attention to the fruit we are bearing.  If we notice something rotten, then adjustments need to be made.  We need to ask God to fertilize, prune, protect, and water us with His Spirit and His Word, so that our fruit will once again be of Him.

NOTE:  As I was typing this, my son spilled milk on our cloth couch.  Instead of reacting in the flesh, yelling and belittling, allowing it to ruin our morning, or going out to buy a new couch, God gave me His Spirit to react with His fruit.  I was patient and kind with my son.  I practiced self-control by thoroughly cleaning the couch instead of throwing it out and buying a new one (like I wanted to do), and I was able to show joy as I laughed with my kids when they pretended the uncovered couch cushions were cloud town.  🙂  Thank you, God.  What a perfect example you allowed me to live out.

Abiding in the Vine,

jamie

Don’t give up now

Pr. 27: 18:  “Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who waits on his master will be honored.”

A workout buddy of mine once gave me some advice that stuck.  She said, “At the point when you want to give up, that’s when you’re building endurance.”  Her advice got me through some intense (former) workouts.

However, the last time I felt like giving up the fight and giving into depression, her words rang again in my mind.  I realized how true they are, not just for working out, but for life.

The NKJV Bible that I read uses the word perseverance.  Let’s look at Ro. 5:3-5:

we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Peter 1:5-11 talks about fruitful growth in the faith:

giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Talk about eating the fruit of the tree we keep.

Peter also reminds us in chapter 3, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, [the day of the Lord] be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (vs. 14-18)

At the point where we feel like giving up the fight against temptation, sin, indifference, and justification…if we will instead choose to persevere, that is when our endurance is built.

What happens when we build endurance?  We are stronger in the face of the next temptation.  We have the stamina to go longer between moments of intentional, willing sin.  Our brains begin to think more clearly, and our justifications become baseless.  Our confidence in who we are in Christ will grow, and our confidence in His strength will not easily be shaken.

Building our endurance takes diligence.  Diligently growing in our faith while we wait on our Master will allow us to be honored upon His arrival.

The day is at hand.  We cannot give up now.  We must diligently keep ourselves to see the fruit.

Let me say it again so maybe it will stick in your brain like it has mine:  At the point when you want to give up, that’s when you’re building endurance.  And for that fight we put up, we will indeed be honored.  🙂

Waiting on Him,

jamie

Oh, and I heard this song this morning that reminded me of this.  He is worth it!

 

Pouring out sweet freedom

Pr. 27:9:  “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.” 
Having just spent the morning playing with essential oils, this verse about perfume delighting the heart certainly stands out for me.

And is it surprising that my reading in Acts this morning also speaks to this verse?  In Acts 15 we find that “certain men” came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren of Gentiles that unless they were circumcised, they could not be saved.

The teaching certainly caused many to become troubled and upset.  The apostles and elders then met to discuss the matter and were reminded that it was the Holy Spirit who acknowledged the Gentiles and not men themselves.  James recited the words God spoke through Amos that said that all mankind could seek the Lord, “Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name.”

The Holy Spirit did not call us to place burdens upon our fellow believers.  John 8:36 tells us that, “If the Son (Jesus) makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Just as ointment and perfume delight the heart, sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.  Those believers who had been troubled received a letter declaring that no excess burdens would be placed upon them.  Vs. 31 says, “When they read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.”

Let’s make a pact that going forward we will allow the Holy Spirit to the Holy Spirit’s job; and that our hearty counsel will not trouble our friends or add excess burdens upon them, but that the freedom that was given through Jesus Christ will be poured upon them like a healing ointment and the sweetest of all perfumes.

Hoping to delight some hearts,

jamie

CAN EVERYONE HEAR ME!?

Pr. 27:14:  “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” 

I’ve always been a ‘morning person.’  I have no problem being loud first thing in the morning.  I used to walk in to work having already been up for 2 1/2 hours, so I was peppy, singing, etc.  Not everyone appreciated that, though.  ha!  We’re all wired differently.

This verse is talking more about “blessing” someone for the sake of others.  It speaks to making a show of blessing or praising someone, so that all will not look at that person, but rather at you.  As if you’re saying to everyone else, “Please listen to me as I praise this person!  I am 1st in line.  I am so eloquent.  I am compassionate and wise.  I am a wonderful human being.”

If that is the intention of the praise, then has the recipient truly been blessed?  Nah.  The one who we claim to be blessing will probably understand the true motive and therefore count it as a curse.

We should bless those around us, but not so that we can receive the credit or attention.  Instead it should be from a heart of true thanksgiving, understanding, and gratitude.  It should be for the other person’s sake, and not our own.

Look for a reason to bless someone.  We all need that.  But make sure that it’s not done so that you are actually the one receiving the praise.

Trying to whisper,

jamie