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

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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

Get this!

Pr. 4:7:  “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding.” 

This morning it struck me that we are constantly trying to get something.  Get fit.  Get rich.  Get healthy.  Get well.  Get promoted.  Get an education.  Get a husband.  Get a wife.  Get this.  Get that.

Solomon tells us that the principal thing to get is wisdom.  I like his next sentence best when he says, “in all your getting, get understanding.”  We know from reading the Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  These are the things we need most.

Paul encourages us in Ro. 16:19 to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.  Wisdom of what is truly good is only found in the Lord.

When trying to get wisdom or understanding, what we really need to Get is the Word.  We need to Get into His presence in prayer and submission.  We need to Get alone with Him to hear His Word and His Spirit speak wisdom into our hearts.

Ro. 16:18 reminds us that there are those who do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.  The only way to prevent ourselves from being simple, and allowing ourselves to be lured away from the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is to continue to get true wisdom.

Today, we are all encouraged to Get into the Word and God’s presence to find wisdom and understanding.  What God has to offer us is more than enough to help us take care of all the rest.  In fact, one thing we will learn is that all the other things we truly need will be supplied by God, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Getting closer,

jamie

What was I trying to say?

Pr. 23:20:  “Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.”

Last night I had a dream where I was with a small group of people who was encouraging a broken person and witnessing to them about Christ.  One of the people in our group was one of the Pastor’s from my church.  We wound up at a bar, which was the place where that person was most comfortable.  And then, my Pastor ordered shots for us all.

I wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable being in the bar, but when my Pastor ordered us shots and then eagerly drank his, I was worried that he was crossing a dangerous line.   (Reminder…this was only a dream)

We were called to tell others about Christ.  Paul said that he made himself a servant to all, that he might win the more.  To the Jews he became as a Jew, to those who were weak he became as one weak, etc.  (1 Cor. 9:20-23)  He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

Paul did what it took to witness; however, this same man also reminds us in the chapter before to be cautious of our liberties in Christ.  He tells us that our decisions could cause a weaker brother could stumble.  He was ever-mindful of the reason he was witnessing in the first place, disciplining himself as to not become disqualified.  (1 Cor. 9:27)

We exist to win people to Jesus Christ and the best way to do that is to make Jesus so attractive that others cannot resist. While doing so; however, we must be careful that we don’t begin to mar our own credibility and risk becoming in bondage ourselves.

This is definitely not a blog about the right or wrong of drinking, but we have something so much better to offer others than a profitless shot of alcohol, and we have to demonstrate that by our actions.  What can be found in Jesus is far beyond any outside lift.  When becoming a servant to all, we must be ever mindful of the One whose servanthood we are first called to emulate.

We must keep in mind that being a witness for Christ means we must give evidence of the hope that is found in Him, and not allow ourselves to forget what we were trying to say in the first place.

Sticking close to the Savior,

jamie