Keep showing up

Acts 1:21-22: “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

When Jesus’ disciples were set to choose someone to take the place of Judas, these are the words they spoke.  They wanted someone who had been with them from the beginning and could attest to all that Jesus had done and said.  It needed to be someone who had been faithfully by their side along the journey, paying attention, and someone who could reveal Jesus’ true nature to others.  They then chose 2 men and left it up to God to make the final decision.

I’m compelled to say to someone this morning, keep serving.  Keep showing up.  Keep being faithful.

Matthias was not one of the original 12 disciples, but he was 1 of the leaders who spread the gospel of Jesus after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  His role was pivotal.

Had he not spent his early years showing up, he would not have been qualified by the Lord.  Keep showing up.  The Lord sees you and knows you by name.  He is preparing a place for you.

Stay faithful,

jamie

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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

Love your enemies, part 3

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

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 2

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

In yesterday’s blog, I asked this question: if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

When you or someone you love has a serious prayer need in your life don’t you desire compassion and aren’t you seeking for people to pray for you?  Most of us are.

Now, say that the wrathful person you envisioned in this verse has a prayer need.  Are you going to take time to pray for them?  If someone who has previously injured you in some way now needs prayer, will you pray for them?

What was it that Jesus told us in Mt. 5:44-45?  Get ready for it…

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Jesus said we should love our enemies.  Not only that, but we should bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us.  Also, we should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.  Why?  So we may be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.  He makes us all, loves us all, and according to John 3:16, died for us all.

I have a testimony not meant for a blog, but the Lord once asked me to pray for someone who had seriously injured me.  It seemed like an unreasonable request, considering the pain this person had caused me, and although I initially argued with God (in the pew at church), I eventually gave in.  Once I did, I was lifted of a burden in a way I never could have imagined.

The Lord freed ME of anger…freed ME of unforgiveness…freed ME of pain and bitterness.  I am much more equipped to forgive now than I was before, and I am so thankful for the freedom the Lord gave me when I trusted Him enough to do as He commanded. 

We cannot control what the people around us do.  All we can control is what we choose to do.  We can choose to trust the Lord enough to follow His Word and do as He commanded.

Just like He showed me…there are great rewards in store when we do!

Give it a shot!

jamie

Love your Enemies, part 3

Love your Enemies, part 4

 

 

Wisdom’s location disclosed

Pr. 8:20:  “I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice,”

Have you been looking for wisdom?  Just last night I prayed for the Lord to give my family and me wisdom.  Perhaps you’ve done the same a time or two.

This morning I found out where wisdom likes to hang out.  Not only was wisdom with God at the beginning of His way (Pr. 8:22), but she travels through righteousness, down the paths of justice.

If we’re hoping that we’ll make the choices that will lead us to righteousness or justice, then wisdom is definitely the one we want to follow!  She is going the way we need to go!  She’s got the inside track on the hippest places to be.

So, how do we find her in the first place?  James 1:5 tells us that if any one of us lacks wisdom, we just have to ask God, who gives to us all generously and without finding fault, and He will give it to us.

It’s easy.  We ask for her.  He gives her to us generously, and then we follow her.

She calls aloud outside…raises her voice in the open squares.  (Pr. 1:20)  She cries out, and understanding lifts up her voice.  (Pr. 8:1)  I could go on and on, but God’s Word is full of wisdom.

We ask God for wisdom.  He gives it.  We continue to follow it by continuing to stay in His Word and following what the wisdom of His Word tells us.  The Holy Spirit continues to guide us in all wisdom and truth as we walk daily, and we just continue to follow…through righteousness…down the paths of justice.

Oh man, as I’m reminded of all the scriptures about how wisdom pursues us, rewards us, and cries out for us, it makes me not just want to follow her…but to pursue her!  You with me?

Pursuing wisdom,

jamie

   This is where we get our daily dose of wisdom

Lessons learned on today’s hike

Life can put any manner of obstacles in our path.  Sometimes we are strong and energetic, jumping right over them.  Other times we are a little more cautious, stepping carefully over them.  There are other times; however, when we are so tired and wearied that we just feel like sitting down and weeping before them, giving up.  If that happens we sometimes even backtrack and wind up back where we began, making no progress in our journey at all.  It can happen to any of us.

 

 

Life can also offer us bridges.  Sometimes bridges can be scary things.  They can be very high, very rickety, made of rope, built over raging waters, or just something that someone fears.  In order to cross a bridge, we have to have faith that what awaits us on the other side of a bridge is worth us crossing it in the first place.

Those obstacle and bridge moments are definitely moments in our lives when we are prone to call out to God.  We cry out for help from the One we know or have heard can calm our fears or give us peace.  We reach out for the one that calms the storm when the bridge starts swaying.  We ask for help with the obstacles when we know they are Goliath’s that we cannot defeat.

 

It’s those other moments, when the path is clear and the going seems easy that we can get so confident that we forget we are still need of that same Savior.  We see the empty path and assume we can handle the steps ourselves.  We don’t feel the urgency to read our Bible like we did when we were facing the bridges, so we read less and less until maybe we aren’t reading at all.  Meanwhile, there are roots under the leaves that begin trip us up as we go.  Suddenly, the small roots begin to look like the large obstacles once again.

We think our prayer time can wait until we get around the curve, but then we get busy with our day and forget.  Next thing we know, we look up and see a bear lumbering towards us.  Because we haven’t been plugging into the power of the Holy Spirit, we aren’t prepared when the enemy meets us on the path.  Now we’re weak, meeting him in our own strength, and full of fear again.

I’m reminded of how David yelled out to Goliath, “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of the Lord, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.” 1 Sam. 17:45-46

We don’t just need the Lord on our side when the obstacle is in our face.  We need to have had the Lord by our side all along, so that once we meet the obstacles we are sure to face we can face them with a David-like faith, strong and sure.

Walk with Him daily,

jamie

Wounds from a friend

Pr. 27:6:  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Have you ever been wounded by a friend or kissed by an enemy?  Did you know the difference?

Yesterday I was talking with one of my dearest friends.  We have both been affected by suicide lately and the subject of my attempted suicide in high school came up.  After a failed 1st attempt, I wrote a letter with my intentions to my friends before my 2nd attempt, and she took it upon herself to take that letter to the school guidance counselor who called my parents.  I was promptly enrolled in counselling.  Yesterday she admitted to me that she was so scared, back then, that I was going to be mad at her.

I told her that I was mad at her for a while.  Wounds from a friend hurt.  But aren’t they ever faithful?  Because of her loyal and caring action, I got the help that I needed and am here writing this blog today.  She could have allowed her fear of losing our friendship to cause her to not take action, but would that have been the best thing for me?  Absolutely not!  I would have died!  She had to choose between my life or our friendship.  I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her, but at the same time, how easy it was…a no brainer, really.

Now, that one is pretty shut and dry as far as what to do, right?  But…Has your friend started drinking more and more recently and been justifying to you?  What about when your friend is flirting with men who aren’t her husband?  How about when your buddy’s jokes are only dirty ones anymore?  Have your friends started letting the youth hang out at their house and do things that are inappropriate?  Lines can get a little grayed at some point and subjects can get a little touchier.

It’s not always up to us to speak.  Sometimes, the Lord just calls us to pray.  If, after you have prayed; however, you still feel you need to speak then keep this in mind:  There is a popular mantra about thinking before we speak, and as friends, we definitely need to keep this in mind, because it’s so important HOW we say things.

When we are truly someone’s friend, and we say things from a place of love then they know it.  Even if they do get upset, if we have done it with the right heart, and we have prayed and thought before we have spoken, then we have done all we can to be faithful to them.  We never want to attack our friends from a place of anger or judgment.  So, as faithful friends, we may end up wounding our friends at times, but if we would pray first and think, then we would definitely have less to repair in our relationships.  My friend of 30 years would agree.  😉

Think first,

jamie