How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

Are they singing along?

Pr. 25:20:  “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”

This is an interesting verse.  Of course we want to cheer up those around us who have a heavy heart, but this verse is speaking more about not showing a caring attitude toward those around us who are hurting.

When we were camping a few weeks ago, there was one night when I was so cold that I couldn’t sleep.  At some point, my husband became aware of how cold I was and he gave me his toboggan.  Normally, I would have tried to refuse, worrying that he might need it; however, that night I was so cold I was almost in pain and I certainly wasn’t sleeping at all.  I accepted the toboggan with only an intense thank you.

Him giving me that garment when I needed it most was like such a relief, and was the start of a more restful and pleasant night.

Most of us care.  I have no doubt that most of us care enough to try to offer help and encouragement to someone who is hurting or in need.  Sometimes, however, we can be moving so fast or be so consumed in our own affairs that we maybe don’t notice their pain.  When we’re singing our songs of cheer, it’s good to take notice if those around us aren’t singing along.  If we recognize a long face in the presence of our cheer, we may need to stop and find out if there is some encouragement needed.

We don’t want people to think we don’t care.  Of course we don’t want them to hurt.  It’s certainly ok for sing songs of cheer; however, upon noticing a heavy heart around us, we need to be quick to show concern and to offer a warm garment of encouragement.  It may just be the start of a more restful and pleasant pilgrimage.

Carrying an extra garment,

jamie

The protection of a loving Father

Pr. 19:16:  “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”

Usually, we are the laid-back kind of parents who not only allow their kids to play in rain puddles, but enjoy watching them do so.  We let our kids climb on rocks and walk across things as though those things are balance beams.  We don’t mind when our kids jump off of things, etc.

When we got to Niagara Falls earlier this month; however, all that changed.  As parents, we noticed the strong presence of slippery surfaces all around that park.  Since it was our goal to have an injury-free vacation, our easygoing attitudes turned a bit more tense.

Our kids weren’t being overly careless when they tried to climb and walk on the rocks at Niagara.  They weren’t trying to get hurt when they wanted to run on the water-soaked steps at the bottom of falls.  They’re just kids and they can’t yet see around all the corners.

It’s our job, as their guardians, to set them up for success.  A desire to not see them injured meant that we had to be a bit more strict with our rules.

This verse reminds me of how God protects us.  He has given us commandments to keep us safe and set us up for success.  He wants not just abundant life for us, but also eternal life.  Even when we’re not intentionally being careless, His loving protection is already in place to keep us safe.

His commandments will also help us in those moments when we feel like being intentionally careless.  He doesn’t tell us not to steal just to keep us bound.  There are consequences to stealing, and following His commandments will keep us from those consequences.

Isn’t He good?  Just as we didn’t want our kids to be injured, break bones, or die on the slippery rocks of our vacation world, God doesn’t want us to be injured, become broken, or die here in this world.  He is a loving Provider, caring for His own.

Thank you, Lord, for preparing my way, directing my steps, and giving me wise guidance along the way.  As much as I’ve already been hurt, I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been without You.  I am glad You are a Father who cares. 

Thankful for His commandments,

jamie

Avoiding the extra pains

Pr. 1:32:  “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

For the last few weeks, I’ve been getting numerous chiropractic adjustments and massages on my foot, ankle, and leg to get rid of the “tendonitis” I’ve had.  My boot has been off 1 week now, so that’s a definite improvement.  As I was lying on the massage table this morning, trying to breathe through the searing pain, like that of melting, ripping flesh, I was reminded of all the months I’ve gone without getting a regular massage.

I’ve known for quite some time now that my body requires extra care, such as regular massages, consistent chiropractic care, stretching, Epsom salt soaks, etc.  Sometimes I get complacent; however, and let too much time go by before doing what I should.  In doing so, new problems arise in my muscles that wreak havoc.  The result is that I end up enduring a massage that is, like I said above, something that feels like my flesh being seared off the bone.

Thinking about this reminds me of what happens when we turn away from God’s truth or become complacent in our relationship with Him.  We know what we require, what we need to function at our best, what brings us closer to Him, but we grow complacent and let too much time slip by without doing those things we need.

The result of our complacency is that little problems, thoughts, situations, and choices begin to wreak havoc on our spiritual health and destroy us.  Sometimes we don’t even realize it until it’s out of control.  Not only do we bring unnecessary pain on ourselves while we’re here, but when we turn away from the truth, those things we know we need, it eventually leads to death.

Jesus died on the cross to bring us freedom.  In Him, we have freedom right now, and through His death we will have freedom for eternity.  While He was on this earth He told the Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:31-32

The searing pain can be avoided.  If we are abiding in His word, the truth will be ever before us and shall set us free from pain and death.  We cannot afford to be complacent.  We must care for our souls on a daily basis.

Take care of you,

jamie

Break out of the norm!

Pr. 30:13:  “There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!  And their eyelids are lifted up.”

Knowing that our strength and provision come from the Lord, it’s not really our place to be puffed up with pride.  Treating others as though they are somehow beneath us just isn’t what we were commanded to do.

As I recall, Jesus broke bread with the reviled tax collectors and with sinners.  He knew the reason for which He came to this earth, and He did not stray from that purpose.  When questioned about it He spoke, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  He came for people just as those.  Just like me.

Jesus also reminded us that the same measure of judgment we use will be measured back to us.  This a serious statement that we simply must remember.

When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  And he added, ‘And the second is like this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”‘  He then gave an example of who qualifies as a neighbor.  Apparently we are all neighbors.  We are commanded to love one another as we love ourselves.

Loving as we love ourselves brings to mind Romans 12, which reminds us that each of us have a function and serve a specific purpose.  We must  not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, as we were all created as an essential part of the body of Christ.   None are more important than any other.

Jesus, when faced with the question of who would be the greatest, spoke these important words, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”  Humbling ourselves, preferring others over ourselves, serving others, and operating in our specific purpose is what is seen as greatest to Him.

Although the generation in which we live certainly promotes being lofty, puffed up, and vain, we must hold tightly to the teaching of our Savior.  No matter what attitude is the ‘norm’ in our world, the attitude that makes us the greatest in Jesus’ eyes is that of a servant.

God created each of us with different gifts and functions in this world.  Instead of walking around thinking how much better we are than others, we are commanded to love everyone, and called to use our gifts to help one another and glorify the Father.

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”  Ro. 12:10-12

Let’s reach out today and truly love.

Warmly,

jamie

 

Do it today!

Pr. 27:1:  “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

At church on Sunday our Pastor reminded us that one of us could die at any moment.  He encouraged us to seize the moment we had to tell each other how we felt about one another.  We had a wonderful time of fellowship.  The next day one of our congregation members passed away.  Pastor was right.

I remember when I was 19.  My childhood friend was in a car wreck and some of our mutual friends called in the middle of the night to say she wasn’t expected to make it to morning.  My mom actually spoke to them on the phone, so I didn’t hear the urgency in their voices.  I had to open at work the next day and, being 19, still thought we were invincible.  I determined that I would pray for her and go see her as soon as I left work the next day.  I never imagined she’d actually die.

The knock on my door the next morning informed me I was wrong.  The decision I made haunted me for a long time.  Now, almost 20 years later, I still try to remind myself to speak my feelings of affection while I still have time.  I’m not perfect at it.  I still get distracted, busy with housework, and nervous, but overall I try to share love, affection, and encouragement whenever possible.  I am one of those “huggers.”  🙂

It is fine to plan for the future, but don’t put off until tomorrow the things that truly matter.  Today, determine to spend time with the Lord, express your love and affection for those in your life who truly matter, and reach out to someone you know that needs your touch.  Who knows if you or they will have a tomorrow?

I love and care for you,

jamie