Love your enemies, part 4

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

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A good name

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Pr. 22:1

Yesterday was my son’s 8th birthday.  He did have a good day and by the end of the day, declared it “the best birthday ever!”  That’s a win!

He liked his presents, but more than all of that, he enjoyed the closeness we shared as I read him our traditional birthday book.  He hugged me over and over as we looked at his baby pictures and I answered his questions about when he was born.

It thrilled his heart that his sister worked really hard and enthusiastically to make him a special birthday cake just the way he wanted.  His heart was overjoyed when we surprised him by having his old friend show up at our celebration last night.

He appreciated the work we did on his decorations.  He enjoyed having his grandfather, uncle, family, and some friends there to celebrate with him.  He was just happy to be loved and favored.

He was grateful and thankful for all we did and gave, and he expressed his thanks to all.  Everyone was happy to celebrate with him because he is a such a great guy.  He is kind, generous, loving, sharing, encouraging, fun, and is a joy to be around.  In other words, he has a good name.

And that is what I want for him most of all.  As much as he was grateful for the “riches” he received, he was much more nourished and made to feel complete by the favor shown to him.  As much as I enjoyed giving him things, I feel much more proud of the fact that people enjoy being around him and that he is a kind person.

My prayer is that he continue on this path all his days and that he grow to truly know for a fact what ‘things’ are most important to be chosen in this life.

It’s a reminder we can all use from time to time.  Riches and things can be helpful, pretty, and can make us smile temporarily, but can all be taken away or destroyed.  At the end of the day, what really matters are those who love and care for us.  How we make others feel is what they remember about us.  We have to make sure we are choosing to give ourselves a good name by our actions towards others.

Thanks for being a great illustration for this important verse, my amazing son!  We are so proud of you.

Mom, aka jamie

 

A story of integrity

Pr. 11:3:  “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The word that piqued my interest in this verse this morning was ‘guide.’  I find it interesting that the thing that will guide us is integrity.  It’s not just recommended or a good idea, integrity will guide us.

Have you ever thought about that before?  Have you ever thought, “If I want some guidance today, I will start with integrity!”?  I sure haven’t.

When we’re making plans and decisions; however, if you really think about it, integrity does determine which path we choose to take.

Ok, here’s an example:  There are days when I’d love to nothing but sit on the couch and read all day.  Seriously, all day.  My integrity; however, will not allow me to do that because I have responsibilities in my home.  My integrity drives me to keep up my end of things and do my work.  So, I take an allotted amount of time to read, and then I move on to my other tasks.

Let’s look at the other side of this verse:  the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.  We can probably all give examples of this.  Lying sets us up to be found out and to lose others’ trust.  Cheating and stealing can get us punished in all kinds of ways.  Constant excuses render us unreliable.  Unforgiveness and lack of mercy clothe us in bitterness and anger that affects all of our relationships.  A consistent track record of these kind of things causes our character, and sometimes our quality of life, to be destroyed.

2 Cor. 3:3 talks about being an epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God.  Our lives are a story.  If we allow integrity and the Holy Spirit to guide us, then our story points to Christ and His love.  We don’t have to declare ourselves as good people, as honest and faithful, or even as Christians.  Our actions tell that story for us.

If perversity guides us, we are telling a much different story, and no matter what we think, that truth and destruction cannot be hidden.  It is there for all to see.

So today, we need to look to integrity to help us determine what choices we will make.  If integrity is our guide, our actions will reflect it.

Seek out that guide today,

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

 

 

A fine line

Pr. 19:23:  “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.”

Attempting to guide my children in the truths of the Bible isn’t always easy.  Lately I’ve been unsure if I’m handling things right.

While trying to teach them about sin, I am very nervous that I might leave out the beauty of grace.  Then, while I’m busy teaching grace, I have an ever-present fear that I’m leaving no room for accountability and repentance.

This morning I bumped into this Proverb about ‘the fear of the Lord,’ and I realize that the only answer for me as a parent is to walk this fine line with a foundation of prayer and trust in the Lord.

In my own strength, I will never be able to teach them exactly right.  The beauty of God’s word is that it does not return to Him void.  It accomplishes what God pleases, and will prosper in the purpose for which it was sent.  (Is. 55:11)  Therefore, I must conclude that speaking the Word into my children’s lives is my job.  Accomplishing what God pleases is His.

Also, I must keep in mind that I was not created as The Holy Spirit.  While it is my job to guide and teach my children, it is the Holy Spirit who will bring to their remembrance the things they’ve learned about God as they walk through their lives.  (Jn. 14:26)

Fear of the Lord is something I can demonstrate in my own life and in the way I teach and train my children.  The more we learn about God, the more our own values and character will be fashioned after His.

I must also demonstrate what it means to grow in Christ.  While speaking to my daughter about self-control a few weeks ago, I realized that I’m not bearing that same fruit in certain areas in my own life.  So, I had to make some adjustments.  Allowing her to see those weaknesses in me and to see how I choose to confront them will testify my beliefs to her more than any words I could ever speak.

So, do I know exactly how to walk this thin line of teaching sin and grace at the same time.  Definitely not.  But I know the One who does and I am reminded that not only is His strength is made perfect in my weakness, but that He loves and cares for my children even more than I ever could.  He will guide and water them as His own. I just need to plant the seeds.

I’m thinking the best way to teach them is for me to continue to stay grounded in Him.  Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.  I trust in You.

Learning,

jamie

Which do you desire more?

Pr. 24:1:  “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them”

Ro. 13:11-14 encourages us to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.  It says, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  Why?  Because the day is at hand.  Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Make no provision for the flesh:  making provision for something means that you gather necessary supplies, plan and prepare, set the stage.  We are not to do those things for the lusts of our flesh.  We are to cast off the works of darkness, getting rid of the provisions and plans for our lusts.

Some associations in our lives make it difficult to walk as in the day.  Choosing not to walk in revelry, drunkenness, and lewdness usually involves ending some relationships.  Making no provisions will mean that certain actions will have to be changed.  Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ will mean that new choices will need to be made.

Change is never easy, but with the day of our salvation nearer than ever before, it is necessary.  Anticipating the day when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, take away sorrow, death, crying, and pain, we must not give up or continue to willingly give in.  On that day, former things will pass away, and The Word tells us that, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall by My son.” (Rev. 21:7)

Since the former things are going to pass away anyway, they are not worth hanging on to.   Rev. 12:11 tells us not to “love our lives to the death.”  Choosing the idols of our flesh over God reveals what we love most, and will only lead to our death.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  It is our relationship with Jesus that bring salvation.

Making provision to put on the Lord Jesus Christ every day will allow Him to bring to us His great reward.  Choosing Him gives us rights to the tree of life and access to the gates of the city of heaven.  Confessing, by our choices, that He alone is our God allows us to hear Him say, “Come!” on that great day.

Let’s allow God to help us get rid of the provisions we’ve placed in our lives that help us feed the lusts of our flesh, and to give us a new testimony that includes the healing blood of the Lamb.  Together, we will worship, knowing that He is coming quickly…for us.

Here is a song to help set the stage for those changes.  I pray God will speak to, strengthen, and cleanse us all today.

Desiring what will last,

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