Lessons from ol’ Eb

In Jeremiah 38, we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon, meaning he had to be lowered down with ropes; and the Bible says there was no water, but mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.  Jeremiah is in a bad situation.

Someone found out about this.  He was a eunuch in the king’s house, named Ebed-Melech.  We’ll just call him Eb, for short.

Jeremiah was a prophet, which means he normally had some respect, but right now he is sinking in mire, in a place where he had to literally be lowered down with ropes.  Yikes!  Not much respect here.  Eb goes to the king and says, “My lord the king, these men have done evil..to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is.  For there is no bread in the city.”

The king commands Eb to take 30 men with him to go lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon before he could die.  So, the men got some old rags and clothes and lowered them down into the dungeon on some ropes and told Jeremiah to put them under his armpits, under the ropes, and then they pulled him up, and hopefully fed the man and let him get cleaned up a little.  (I don’t know…it doesn’t say that part)

There are people in our lives right now that feel as though they are sinking the mire.  Are we taking the time out of our lives to send down the ropes and pull them out?  It’s ok if we need to get some others to go with us.  Eb took 30 men with him.  If you’re too insecure or uncertain to do it alone call for back up!  But never leave someone sinking if you know they’re there.  Pull them out before they can die…emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I also love the care they took with Jeremiah.  They considered his weakened state and sent down some old rags and clothes for him to put under his armpits before having him put the ropes under his arms before they pulled him back up.  When we are helping people, it’s ok to take a little extra care and not always assume “tough love” is the immediate best plan.

There are also people around us who need to be literally fed or given some water.  Perhaps you can help with that.  If so, please do.  Maybe you don’t have all the resources, but like Eb, you know someone who does.  Talk to them.  See if they can help, and maybe you can even pitch in and help like ol’ Eb did.  Don’t just watch someone suffer and do nothing.  Pr. 3:27 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.”

Thanks for these great reminders today Eb!  You were a stand up guy!

Look for someone around you that may need some help today,

jamie

 

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Don’t watch me…

“I don’t want anyone watching me.  I don’t think I’m an example for anyone.”  That’s what our Sunday school teacher said Sunday morning.  I’ve heard celebrities say that they aren’t trying to be anyone’s role model, an example for anyone, or that being such is too much pressure.

My Sunday school teacher followed his statement up with the fact that people are still looking.  The fact is, we are setting an example for people with everything we do.  We are either setting a good example or a bad one.  We don’t have to be a celebrity to do that.

Brothers and sisters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, friends and colleagues, church members and club members…we are all setting an example by our behavior, day in and day out.

You may not want it to be so, but the fact is that it’s true.  People are watching.  It’s what we do.  We watch.  We evaluate.  We learn.

Is your behavior setting a good example?  Have you ceased to care?  Have you given up?  Or do you still get a twinge of guilt when you see someone watching?  It’s never too late to change!

What you do matters!

Why?  For the approval of others?  No.  To impress others or make an impression of perfection?  Certainly not.  We all know we aren’t perfect.

It matters because we are representing Jesus Christ!  We are the temple, walking around, housing the Holy Spirit.  He is within us, and people are watching what we do with that temple.

We are either pointing them to Him, or we are pushing them away.  We are either showing that we trust in Him or that there’s no hope.  We are either showing that He is our Lord and King, or that our flesh or this world and all its lustful desires rule our lives.

We are an example, either good are bad, and people are watching.  It’s time to decide which way we’re gonna walk.

I’m an example, too,

jamie

 

A life without apology

I was sweeping up the pieces of a broken glass lampshade this morning and the Lord showed me how the pieces were like our choices.

I’ve seen pretty memes on social media about how we should live our lives without apology, but a life without apology doesn’t always look beautiful.  A life without apology is selfish.  It can even be evil.  It can look like rape, murder, genocide, incest, abuse, lies, manipulation, or many other things that people aren’t thinking about when they see they first see that statement.

The choices we make in our lives affect other people whether we want them to or not.  Cause and effect is a certainty.

Now, if our choices are to sin, things around us break.  Even things in the lives of others.  We may not like to believe it, but it’s true nonetheless.  If we choose to lie, others are hurt.  If we choose to murder, others are affected.  If we choose to [you fill in the blank] there is a ripple affect.

“Oh, but no one else even knows what I’m doing.” Maybe they don’t, and maybe they won’t, but I assure you that your choices are affecting the people around you.  Pieces around you are breaking.  Things are not whole and well like they used to be.

Even though I swept up the pieces of that broken lampshade, I am sure there are pieces that are scattered in places I cannot see.  Some pieces are so minute that I can’t see them.  Some will show themselves later on down the line.

It’s the same with our choices.  Whether good or bad, we don’t always see the outcome and affect of our choices until later, and some are so minute we may not notice, but we can know with certainty that our choices have affected those around us.

As Christians, we don’t have the luxury of living a life without apology.  Sorry.  We have people counting on us and a God to answer to, in the end.   We are called to be a living sacrifice…even in 2019.

Sorry, not sorry,

jamie

Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

Are you with him?

Do we really need to read our Bibles, pray, worship, spend time with God?  Does that stuff actually matter?  Does it make us saved?  Does it change anything?

Things I’ve heard lately:  “How do I know if I’m saved?”  “I don’t need to raise my hands in worship.  God knows how I feel.”  “I don’t need to read my Bible, I feel saved.”

Now, let me be clear right up front.  John 3:16 says whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.  It says if we believe, then we are saved.  I will never say that anyone is not saved if they don’t perform.  The Lord indeed knows our hearts.

However, when Jesus told people to follow Him, He would ask them to give things up.  Some gave up families, jobs, and homes.  He asked the rich, young ruler to give up his wealth.  And he always told people to repent.  He never said that anyone could just go on sinning.  He very clearly told the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.”

We don’t believe in Jesus without knowing Him and if we truly know Him then we understand that He is not ok with us just living any kind of way we want.  No, He doesn’t expect us to come to Him in a perfect state.  What He does expect is that we spend time with Him and allow Him to change us, mold us, and grow us into the person He wants us to be.

How does this happen?

I can say that I’m married to my husband, but if I never spend time with him, how can I know him?  If I don’t have conversations with him, then I will never learn anything about him.  If we never spend time together, then we won’t grow closer together.  What if I live somewhere else and choose to maybe call him twice a year?  What kind of relationship would we have then?

And if we told you we were married, but we were never affectionate, we never saw each other outside of the church, never talked outside of the church, and didn’t even write letters or emails to one another or read each others writings, then would you really believe we belonged to one another?

Worship (being affectionate to God) is an outward way to show that we know Him, we are grateful for His blessings, and that we believe in Him.  No, it is not required, but if you’re in a relationship with someone, isn’t affection usually expected?

Reading your Bible is the way you get to know God more.  It isn’t required, but the Bible is our sword!  It gets us right into the heart of God.  It is how we grow and change.

Prayer is the way we get to talk to God.  We are blessed to be able to speak directly to Him.  Prayer is our lifeline to God.

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what grows us and helps others to see that we belong to Him.  Then we become a true disciple for Him.

Follow Him,

jamie

 

 

Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie