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

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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

 

You are qualified to minister!

Why is it that our imperfections make us feel as though we are unqualified to minister?

Logically, we know that no one is perfect.  When it comes to ourselves; however, we have this harsh standard of judgment that we hold ourselves up against.  We think our imperfections are too imperfect.  If people only knew…  Why would anyone want to listen to us…  What makes us so special or all-knowing…

Let me tell you this.  Your imperfections are Exactly what make you qualified to minister.  It is because you are imperfect that you know how to relate to the imperfections of others.  It is because of your past trials that you understand what others are going through.  It is precisely because of the pain you’ve experienced that you can speak to another’s pain.

No hurting person wants to be ministered to by someone who acts like their own life is perfect and that nothing has ever gone wrong for them.  We always relate much more to people who are real and have scars, just like us .

Having gone through your trials, your pain, and your battles has made you the minister that you were meant to be.  I know for a fact that God doesn’t allow things to happen in our lives without having something good come from them.  If that good thing is that our faith is built, then we are better for it.  If that good thing is that our character is stronger, than praise be to Him!  If that good thing is that we now rely on the One who gives the strength, then we have come out as winners.

You get it?  There is a verse in 2 Timothy that really speaks to me on this.  Chapter 3, verse 7 says, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Is that what we are doing?  Always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?  It is time for that to stop!  It is time to come to the knowledge of the truth, once and for all.

My pain and my trials have equipped me for ministry.  What I have learned through them and through God’s Word have equipped me for ministry.  What you have learned has done the same for you.  It is time to stop doubting, to trust in God, to come to the full knowledge of the truth, and to minister as though the end is drawing near.  Because brothers and sisters, I assure you the end is indeed drawing nigh.

The very fact that you have come out on this side of your battle, still looking to God as your Source, says that you have endured!  Now, there are others out there in need of the same Savior, Healer, Deliverer, and Provider that you’ve been leaning upon.  It is time for you to go forth and minister!

Fulfill your ministry,

jamie

Introducing the Messiah

Mt. 27:25: “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.'”

This is what the people said to Pilate when he washed his hands before them saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person [Jesus]. You see to it.”

Pilate could find no fault in Jesus because there was none.  The people took the fault upon themselves, but what struck me this morning was that they not only took the fault upon themselves, but they put it upon their children, as well.  Wow!  That’s some kind of serious burden and legacy to place upon your own children.

Back in Ps. 78, Asaph writes, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”  (vs. 2-4)

What happened between the time he wrote this and the time that Jesus was standing before the people and Pilate?  Well, just because one father decides to tell his kids about the Lord doesn’t mean they all do.  We know that.  That is why people did not recognize the Messiah when He came.  He was standing right in front of them, and instead of worshiping and honoring them, they took their blood upon themselves and their own children, crucifying Him.

We have the same responsibility today that Asaph had all those years ago, and it doesn’t matter if we are a parent or not.  Jesus is going to come back one day for His bride.  We must not hide the parables and the truth about our loving Savior and Messiah from the generations around us.  We need to tell the praises of the Lord.  He is worthy!  We need to talk about His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.  He is mighty!

We can leave a wonderful legacy to the world around us.  A legacy of eternal life and reward.  There is still time to help those around us recognize the Messiah and give Him honor.  Get involved in sharing the gospel one way or another.  Don’t let someone meet their Messiah unprepared because you weren’t willing to open your mouth.  Let’s follow Asaph’s example and leave the legacy of hope they’ve been granted through grace.

Thank You, Jesus Christ, for our salvation through Your death and resurrection!  Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness through the cross!  We praise You, and You alone, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Amen.

jamie

Pr. 20:7: “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”    (Now that’s a legacy worth leaving!)

 

Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

On courage

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'” John 4:34

I was reading about courage this morning: Courage being the act of doing what you are afraid to do.

It occurred to me that I most often hear people (including myself) express fear about doing God’s work.  People aren’t as hesitant to go back to school, move to a new state for work, go skydiving, or start a new business as they are to begin a new ministry, teach Sunday school, sing on the praise team, or speak from the pulpit.  Forget moving to another country to minister in missions…that is almost incomprehensible.

Why in the world are we more afraid to do the work of the One who is our Provider than to do ordinary things?  Why are we more willing to commit to the PTA than to helping in the nursery at church just once a quarter?

Is it possible that we are feeding on the wrong things?  Jesus’ food was to do the will of the One who sent Him, and we have been sent by that same God.

When the Lord lays some new work on our heart, here are some helpful things we will need to have been feeding on:

  • God has commissioned all of his followers to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Mt. 28:19)  This is our job.
  • God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Ph. 4:19)
  • God has already sent pastors and teachers to equip us for the work of the ministry  (Eph. 4:11-12)  We are ready.
  • We’re invited to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Heb. 4:16)  We are not alone.
  • And finally, if we our obedient and choose to give in to God’s leading, trusting that He will take care of our needs, we can be certain He will meet them as He said because Heb. 5:18 reminds us that, “It is impossible for God to lie.”

Karl Bath said, “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”  I can’t think of a better way for us to take on our fears.

If the Lord lays a work on our hearts, it’s ok to be afraid.  Moses was afraid.  Joshua was afraid.  Gideon was afraid, too.  However, we need to take our fears to God’s throne of grace and receive the help He has waiting there for us.

Don’t we know that the One who created the heavens and the earth, owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and holds this world in His hand…that same One can certainly help us teach a class, preach a sermon, sing a song, minister to the sick, or any other thing He has asked us to do?

He has given us His Word so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim. 3:17)  If we are feeding on the right things, then we have all we need.

Let’s get to work!

jamie

Godly feet

Pr. 7:11: “She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home.”. 

Being a stay-at-home mom, I can easily understand what this harlot should have been doing.  (Hang with me, men).  It says her feet would not stay home.

She had responsibilities she should have been home taking care of.  She had a husband that relied on her to be trustworthy while he was away.

She was loud and rebellious, not caring about what she ought to be doing.  No doubt the phrase, “I’m going to do what I want, when I want, and no on is going to stop me” was something she believed.

In Titus 2, Paul writes out some of the qualities of a sound church.  Older men are to be sober, reverent, temperate, and sound in faith, love, and patience.  In other words, men are expected to behave sensibly and respectfully.  They should be able to show restraint because of their faith.

Women are asked to also be reverent, not slanderers, not given to much wine, and to be teachers of good things.  They are also to be a good example for younger women, demonstrating how to love their husbands and children, how to be discreet and chaste, obedient, and how to be good homemakers.

Eeeeek!  This goes against so much that our society teaches right now.  I know.  I get it.  I’m sorry.

The thing is, though, the Word hasn’t changed.  God has not changed.  He still expects us to live lives that are godly and reverent, and that being honor and glory to Him.

The harlot in that verse wasn’t doing any of the things she should have been doing, and was, in fact, doing exactly what she shouldn’t.

When we serve the Lord, we cannot just act any way we want.  No, we aren’t going to be perfect, but that doesn’t give us the excuse to not even try to live a godly life.

When we choose to serve the Lord, we are expected to make some changes.  If our lives are to point others to Him and to glorify Him, we must make every effort to live as examples.

We need to keep our feet at home, which for us means we need to be about our own business and about the business of the Lord.  We also don’t need to be loud or rebellious, but instead we should be discreet, respectful, and submissive to the word of God.

Those things don’t make us weak or mindless, they make us strong, full of integrity, and influential for Christ.  And, contrary to what the world tells us, being influential for Christ is why we are here.  That is the goal.

Let’s be loud in our obedience to Christ, and be faithful in our example.

In charge of my feet,

jamie