Why become wise?

Pr. 7:4:  “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin.”

Wisdom is a wonderful thing.  We should always be striving to become more wise.  Wisdom brings with it things like prudence, diligence, discretion, respectfulness, humility, boldness, confidence, intelligence, ability, understanding and reason.  These are definitely qualities that are wonderful for us to have in this life.  Wisdom can help us be successful in our ventures, maintain and cultivate healthy relationships, and keep us from making choices that will endanger our lives.

It’s interesting; however, that Paul told the Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try to become wise?  Does that mean we shouldn’t grow and learn?  Of course not!  God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities.  Not only that, but He has given us each different capacities for learning and different interests that He has intended for us to use in pursuit of the eternal goal.

We all have something different to offer this world.  Paul reminds us that God did not call many wise or mighty people.  He has chosen the foolish and weak things to bring Him glory.  I for one am weak.  (I didn’t want to admit to being foolish.  ha!)  Truly I am weak, though, and indeed foolish in many ways.  I am not the wisest or mightiest.  Paul himself said to the Corinthians,

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s it.  He didn’t come to them in his own wisdom and power, but in God’s.  And why?  That their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  That’s exactly what our own weakness and foolishness can show in our lives.  When we think in worldly terms, we think of those things only as pure weakness.  Think of it the way this way, though.  When the weakest person gets up and allows God’s Spirit and power to use them in a mighty way, how much more powerful is that for us to witness?

If you know someone is barely able to walk or speak or move, but, under the power of the Spirit, they begin to shout, jump, or minister to people, is that not an amazing thing to witness?  If you hear someone who is mentally handicapped in any way begin to speak in a way that inspires and encourages and glorifies the Lord, is that not a power thing?  It is.

Our weaknesses are not weaknesses when we use them to glorify the Lord.  Yes, we should still strive for wisdom, but let it be through God’s strength as we rely on Him and His Spirit to guide us.  Let us allow Him to use us as a vessel that brings Him glory!

Foolishly,

jamie

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What have you heard lately?

Ro. 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing…”

If faith comes by hearing, then it’s safe to say that it matters what we’re listening to.  When I was a little girl, we sang a song that said, “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear…”   How true that song is, because this verse tells us that faith comes from hearing.  What we are hearing is what leads to our faith.

Let’s start with something simple, like childhood.  When a kid hears over and over how dumb or nerdy or fat they are, from other kids, they start to believe that.  If they hear that they are pretty, smart, or talented, they believe the same.

When we watch documentaries, we find they are so easy to believe.  Before we’ve even checked the facts, we’ve heard what the experts have said, and our faith in their ‘truth’ is built.  Sometimes it is true.  Sometimes not so much.

When politicians are what we are hearing most, we can begin to believe our salvation or destruction rests on their decisions.

Likewise, if I am constantly listening to words that tell me how strong and able I am, but neglect to listen to anything that reminds me of how strong and able God is, I will begin to put my faith in myself.

We cannot deceive ourselves.  Our faith IS going to come from somewhere.  It will come from whatever it is we are hearing right now.  And when we aren’t hearing God’s word, our faith is going to come from somewhere else.  What is it you are hearing at this time in your life?  Is it the word of God?  Is it something else?

In Ro. 12:2, Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We have voices and noise all around us, in this world, but we cannot conform to what this world tells us.  It is not old-fashioned or out-dated to serve the Lord with gladness.  It is not going to hold us back in life to renew our minds and prove what the will of God is.  When our lives prove that which is good and acceptable and perfect, it shows that we are hearing the right voice.

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it.  Doing good works won’t save us in the end.  Believing in another God is not the way to heaven.  When we are hearing God; however, we will know this, and we won’t resent it.  We will understand the great rewards that await all who have chosen the narrow and difficult way that leads to eternal life.

While we are walking that path, let’s make sure someone else hears the same message and take them with us.  How will they know the way unless they first hear it from us?  After all, faith comes from hearing…

Listen selectively,

jamie

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

 

 

Not all traditions are bad

2 Thessalonians speaks of one who will come in deceit, proclaiming to be God.  Paul reminds the church that they were called by the gospel, for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He urges the church to stand fast and hold the traditions which we were taught, so as not to be deceived.

Religious traditions get a bad rap, and sometimes rightfully so.  God did not call us to ‘religion’, but to Him.  We can clearly read that Jesus didn’t care for men’s religious rules, but for true worship and belief.

On the other hand, some traditions are pivotal in keeping us as a true follower of Christ.  How can we follow someone we don’t know?  Reading our Bible opens our hearts and minds to truly know the Lord.  How can we have a relationship with someone with whom we don’t speak?  Praying keeps us humble before the mighty God, and open to asking for His own will in our lives.  Prayer reminds us who it is upon which we depend.

Pr. 1:3 reminds us that the traditions of prudence, knowledge, and discretion are located in God’s Word, and are also very beneficial to us.  “To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

There are deceitful teachings around us that call discretion ‘out-dated’, prudence ‘old fashioned’, and knowledge of God’s Word ‘unnecessary and narrow-minded.’  The Lord reminds us through Paul; however, that some ‘traditional’ things will keep us from being deceived by one who is not the Living God.  We were called to believe in the truth, and traditions that enhance our belief are beneficial.

I’m not telling anyone to get busy keep man’s rules.  I’m encouraging us to hold tightly to the things remind us of the truth of God’s Word, and keep us close to Him.  Those are the things that just might save our lives.

Stand fast,

jamie

My prayer for you today

This morning, with the apostle Paul’s help, I am praying for you.

Lord, I ask that You will fill every person reading this with knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.  I ask that each one will walk worthy of You, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of the One true God. Lord, strengthen every one of these with all might, according to Your glorious power, to endure and be patient in this life, with joy.

I give You thanks, our Father, for qualifying us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  Thank you for delivering us from the power of darkness, and transferring us into the kingdom of the Son of Your love, by whose blood we have forgiveness of sins.  I love You, my Lord and my God.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

jamie

 

*Adapted from Colossians 1:9-14

The safety net of hope

Pr. 11:14:  “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

I’ve been reading some of Paul’s letters to different churches.  Being a travelling missionary, he couldn’t always be present at the churches, so he would write them letters of counsel.  I flipped through and realized how many of those churches I’ve been like over my lifetime.

I’ve been like the church in Thessalonica, young in the Lord, and excited to live for Him!

Oh, but then I’ve turned into the church of Galatia.  Deceived by false teaching, I would believe that in order to be accepted by God, I had to follow the law again.  I allowed guilt, pressure, comparison, or the example of some to lead my away from the salvation of Jesus Christ, and into the thinking that I am saved by my works…not by God’s grace.

Then, I would find my way back to God’s grace, understanding that salvation comes from Him alone, and I would find myself becoming more like the Ephesian church.  Maturing in my spirituality, truly trusting in God’s grace and His strength, walking in unity with my fellow believers, and growing in wisdom, I would be more whole.

After that season of beautiful growth, I would become like the church in Colosse.  I would get distracted from my spiritual growth, and instead, grow in immorality.

Then, after true repentance, I’d be back to baby steps, starting out like a new baby trying to get back to my Savior.  Feeling young and vulnerable again, I would once again be like the church in Thessalonica, excited to give my life to Christ again, and ready to begin taking care of my spiritual growth again.

Just the way Paul counseled the churches through his letters and through the fellow believers he sent their way, I have been counseled along the way by mentors, teachers, Pastors, friends, and the Word of God throughout my inconsistent journey.

I am so thankful that the Lord never let me fall so far that I couldn’t find my way back to Him.  There was a safety that came from the many ‘counselors’ that navigated me through.  Be encouraged today, He can do the same for you.

Certainly I’m not done with my journey.  By God’s grace, I find myself currently in an Ephesian-like season, growing daily closer to Him.  Although it is my hope to remain in that place going forward, I understand that until I’m home in heaven, I will never have it all together.  That’s the beauty of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and renewal.

I encourage us today to be ‘counselors’ for others on their journey.  I pray we will be the instruments God can use to provide the safety they need to block their fall.  Let’s use Paul as our example and encourage those around us in the Lord.  He’s not finished with us yet!

Redeemed,

jamie

 

What if you’re called a fool?

This morning I read 1 Cor. 4, where Paul is talking about the apostles being fools for Christ’s sake.  Vs. 12 says, “And we labor, working with our hands.  Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.”

I’ve been reading a lot about martyr’s lately, both past and present.  Because of this, it was so striking for me this morning to think about Paul’s words.  These aren’t just words on a page.  These are the true thoughts and facts about a human being’s life.

The apostles were truly reviled.  They were left homeless and poorly clothed, spat upon, and condemned, and yet they continued to bless.  For God’s sake, they continued to bless and offer the saving truths of the gospel of Christ.

The apostles were actually persecuted.  They were beaten, threatened, jailed, and killed, and yet they endured.  Looking forward to the reward of serving Jesus Christ, they were able to continue to pour out to as many as possible until the very end.

The apostles were defamed.  They were falsely accused and imprisoned time and time again, and yet they continued to entreat those around them to accept Jesus as their Savior.  They continued to speak the gospel, even in the presence of their accusers, so that anyone whose heart may be open to hear would receive salvation full and free.

I think of the bad days I have, when I can’t get my eyes off of myself.  I think of the times I’ve been hurt, when I’ve allowed my pain to shut me down.  Then, I look at what so many have gone and are going through for the cause of Christ and I know that I still need to mature.

The apostles were the ultimate example of doing all things to the glory of God.

While our individual talents, gifts, and callings may be a little different in description, we are all part of the body working towards the same goal:  to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

In Christ, we have so much to offer those around us.  Even if the time comes when, like the apostles, we are looked upon as fools, it will have been worth it.  There is a great reward awaiting us and those who believe because of our own endurance.

We cannot keep God’s grace and His gifts all for ourselves.  They were meant to be shared.  His sacrifice makes our own sacrifices worth the price.

The song I’ve attached today reminds me that instead of wasting my time on things that don’t matter, I can give everything in my life for Him.  He’s worth it!

Stirred,

jamie

 

Which wisdom do you seek?

Pr. 5:1:  “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding.”

I’m struck again today by what the Bible says about wisdom.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks about the wisdom of men vs. the wisdom of God.  There is a vast difference indeed.

Paul is reminding the Corinthians, and us, that it is not the wisdom of man that we should chase, obsess over, or count on.  He tells us in chapter 2:10-11 that the Spirit alone knows the deep things of God.  We should be chasing after God.

When Paul spoke to them it was not with persuasive words of human wisdom, with excellence of speech, or from his own power and ability.  The only thing he desired to know was Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and when he spoke, he demonstrated the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The ‘wisdom’ of this world is driving us further and further from God.  Of worldly wisdom, Is. 29:14 says that the wisdom of the wise will be destroyed and the understanding of the prudent will be brought to nothing.  We cannot count on the wisdom of men to give us the answers we seek.  We cannot count on the wisdom of men to protect us, solve our problems, or bring true freedom.  Their wisdom will be destroyed and brought to nothing.

Only wisdom from the Lord endures.  When seeking after wisdom, let’s make sure we’re going to the right source.  Wisdom was with God at the beginning of His way, and exists with true prudence, knowledge, and discretion.  (Pr. 8)  We have been invited to ask God for that same wisdom, and told that He who gives to all liberally and without reproach will give it.

We may sometimes feel foolish in the face of worldly wisdom, but we needn’t.  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things to put to shame the things which are mighty.  In the end, God’s wisdom will be what makes all things new and will lead us to our heavenly home.

Let’s grow wiser by running after God.  He’s the one we can truly count on.

With eternity on my mind,

jamie